February 14, 2017 / 2:33 PM / 5 months ago

Bike-promoting Belgian minister finds own cycle stolen

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Ben Weyts of NVA reacts during a plenary session at the Belgian Parliament, November 22, 2012.Laurent Dubrule

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian minister arrived by bike to a news conference to promote cycling on Tuesday, only to find it had been stolen when he left half an hour later.

Ben Weyts, minister of mobility for the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, unveiled a plan to invest 300 million euros ($320 million) in cycle lanes until 2019, as part of a wider program to promote alternative modes of transport.

"We left the bike in racks at the station and locked it," a spokesman for the minister said. "When we got back half an hour later, it was gone."

While Belgium is a country obsessed with cycling as a sport, cars are the main method of commuting to work, leading to some of the worst road congestion in Europe.

The minister had to call his driver to pick him up from the station in Halle, just south of Brussels, the spokesman said, and hoped police would discover the bicycle thief with the help of security camera footage.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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