What is the best way to get around in Ghent? By bike! With many bicycle paths and bike racks available in and around the city plus a relatively flat terrain, Ghent is the perfect city for biking.
In this post you’ll read about where you can buy, rent, fix and park a bike. Or what to do if your bike gets stolen and how you can avoid it. You’ll also find tips on biking safely, and routes in and around Ghent. This post is about recreational biking and not about mountain- or race biking.
Where can I buy a second hand bike?
A popular question asked by newly arrived Gentenaars is often: “Where can I buy a second hand bike?” Here are some options:
- Second hand shops e.g the kringloopwinkels, see locations and opening hours here.
- Many bike repair shops also sell 2nd hand bikes, e.g http://www.fietsenmaeker.be/ near St Pietersplein.
- On Oude Beestenmarkt you can find a small bike market every Sunday from 7:00-13:00
- Twice a year the city of Ghent organises a 2nd hand bike market. Check for updates (in Dutch) here.
Where do I buy a new bike?
- For buying a new bike, check our Fietsenmakers.
- You can also find bikes at bigger sport shops such as Decathlon or Matrabike just outside of Ghent
Renting a bike
Do you have guests coming over for a visit and need to rent a bike? Or perhaps your own is getting a repair and you need a replacement. Not to worry, here are some options:
- Fietsambassade has three spots in Ghent; behind the Sint-Pieters train station on Voskenslaan, Centrum (under the Stadshal) and next to the Dampoort train station. Here you can rent bikes (in most cases you need to reserve 48hrs in advance!), tandems and even shopping bags for bikes. You can also have your bike repaired. Prices range from 9€ (half day) to 34€ for a week. You can even rent a bike for a whole year for 250€. Tailored packages of various rental periods are available.
- Blue Bike is available in many train stations in Belgium. In Ghent the Blue Bike spot is behind the train station Ghent St. Pieters and easily identified by its blue bikes.
- How does it work? You sign up online and pay the yearly fee of 12€ (see latest rates here). Bring the card and pin code you received when signing up to the station where you want to rent a bike. Follow the signs for ‘fietspunt’ or ‘point-vélo’ (‘bike point’). Once there, you can either use the automatic key distributor (24/7) or you can seek the help of a ‘bike point’ employee during opening hours. You get a statement of your monthly usage via e-mail and pay it as you chose when signing up; via direct debit or bank transfer. In Ghent the bike hire is 3.15€ a day. You can hire max 2 bikes in one go with one account.
- You can also rent bikes from some bike shops.
- Via this website (in EN!): Swapfiets you can rent a bike on a monthly basis,15€ for students, 17.50€ for non-students. No deposit needed, 1-month cancellation notice + all service, maintenance and repairs are free.
Repairing your bike
- As mentioned before, you can fix your bike at Fietsambassade at three spots in Ghent: behind the Sint-Pieters train station on Voskenslaan, Centrum (under the Stadshal) and next to the Dampoort train station.
- There are many small bike repair shops across the city, search term suggestion: “fiets herstellen Gent“
- Do not put your wheel into the tram tracks! Your journey will come to an immediate halt and you will fall off your bike and hurt yourself. The best way to avoid this is to cross the tracks when possible at a 90 degree angle.
- Wet cobble stones are really slippery.
- Use your arms to indicate where you are going.
- When cycling close to pedestrians, remember that that they have priority. The best thing you can do is to be nice, hop off and lead your bike through the masses. If you can’t do this, then try to cycle facing the people rather sneak up behind them. This way they will more likely step aside. Or use the bell.
- Can’t bike at all? Ghent’s sport department is looking after you by organising bike-lessons for adults, 10 lessons for 15€. See more at this Dutch-only website.
Parking a bike
There are many, but somehow never enough, bike parkings with many racks in and around Gent. You can find out where they are on the interactive map via this link – just tick the box for “fietsinformatie”.
The biggest ones you can find are situated at the train stations where you also can rent a permanent spot to park your bike at. The Gent St. Pieters station is currently adding a lot of space for bikes in connection with the ongoing renovation. Other ones are under the Stadshal, under the St. Michiels bridge near the Korenmarkt and next to Vooruit. See more info (in Dutch) here. Mind the closing times to avoid not being able to get to your bike at night.
You can find pumps to fill your tyres with at Zuid (this one often doesn’t work) and under the St. Michiels bridge. Fietsambassade helps you with a pump under the city hall and at the train stations.
You can wear bike lights attached to your clothes, bags or bike itself. Besides bicycle shops you can find bike lights at larger supermarkets and shops like Hema. Lights are mandatory by use when you’re biking at night law. Defect lights or no lights can cause you a fine of 55€.
You are allowed to bike next to your buddy, except when you’re passing another cyclist, are blocking the way for someone cycling in the opposite direction as you or when a vehicle/other cyclist is passing you.
Avoid biking when you are intoxicated by alcohol. If you get caught by the police you risk getting a fine or having your driving licence taken away. Yes, same rules apply whether you are travelling by car or by bike – the limit is 0,5% promille.
The regulations state your bike should have:
- two well-functioning, independent brakes, front and rear
- a bell that can be heard up to at least 20 meters
- a well-functioning yellow or white front light
- a white reflector on the front
- a well-functioning red back light
- a red rear reflector
- two yellow or orange-reflectors on both sides of the two wheels and / or a white reflective strip at both sides of each wheel
- a yellow or orange reflector on either side of the two pedals
- lights should not necessarily be installed on the bike. You may wear them yourself on your clothes or backpack. Defect lights or no lights can cause you a fine of 55€.
- a helmet is not mandatory but recommended. Same goes for a high visibility vest when cycling in the hours of darkness.
- Register your bike for free at any of the Fietsambassade points or at the depot (near Sterre; Maaltebruggestraat 191 – 9000 Gent) Check the opening hours before you visit as it is generally open only a few hours every afternoon. The procedure only takes a few minutes and you get a small plate with numbers engraved attached to your bike.
- Pimp up your bike; the more noticeable your bike is – the less attractive it will be for thieves. Think bright colours and accessories which are not attractive and difficult to take off.
- Always secure your bike (even if you leave it for just a second). An urban rule in Ghent states that if you left your bike it unlocked it’s for anyone to take. I haven’t found a Belgian native yet who has not “borrowed” a bike.
- Secure your bike to a pole, fence, bike stand etc. (never to a traffic sign). Yes, otherwise it might end up at the bottom of the closest canal.
- Leave your bike in a safe and visible place (preferably a bike shed or stand). Avoid dark or abandoned places. Bike thieves might arrive with a van to places where they are not likely to get caught and just lift in bikes at the back of the van, locked or not. This is also another reason to secure it to something.
- Use a sturdy lock. Preferably two.
- Check that your bike doesn’t have handles for opening the screws for replacing your front wheel, adjusting the saddle or steering, otherwise these parts might just disappear. Replace the handles with sturdy screws at a bike repair shop.
If your bike gets stolen anyway
- Register your bike as stolen online via Police On Web (available in Dutch, German or French)
- Did you happen to leave your bike at a temporary place? Then it might have been taken to the depot.
- Check your bike number (if you registered it!) on http://www.gevondenfietsen.be/. If you get a hit, you can pick it up from the depot. Remember to bring your Belgian ID or a purchase receipt.
As a bike city, in Ghent you can expect a lot of variations of bikes. Think the foldable bike, the multi carrier Cargo Bike “bakfiets”, tandem bikes for 2 or more people, a bike you can sit back in…
Electric bikes are available e.g via fiets.be near the St-Pieters station. You can also find tandem bikes here. Check with your employer for possible subsidies for getting an electric bike!
A popular means of transport especially for the train commuter is the foldable bike. Many of the above mentioned retailers offer them. You can also order one online via the Dutch website Vouwfiets.
Did you know you can rent a Cargo Bike via the car sharing company Cambio? And that the city of Ghent subsidises it? If you live in the Rabot area you can also do cargo bike sharing within the neighbourhood. More info (in Dutch) is available here.
Routes and tours in and around Ghent
You can also view self guided routes for the surroundings of Ghent or make your own route using the node planner by the city of Ghent here. The Square.Gent also has a post recommending 3 Scenic Riverside Biking Routes.
Train + Bike
You can also take a bike on the train and bike around at your final destination. Fold-able bikes travel for free. Normal bikes are 4€ per journey (on top of your normal passenger ticket). See more at the NMBS website.
Where not to bike
See the updates for which streets are closed to cyclists and avoid a 55€ fine for biking where you shouldn’t in our English guide to the mobility plan of Ghent here.
Do you have tips for biking in Ghent? Add comments below!
About the author:
Jenny is originally from Finland and moved to Ghent in 2009. Now she works as self-employed organising events, supporting businesses with marketing and helping people starting their own businesses by being a community manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous & co-organiser of Freelance Business Day. Find out more and connect with her on LinkedIn.