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Activists protest traffic problems 10 years after first Picnic the Streets

Illustration picture shows a picnic on the Anspachlaan - Boulevard Anspach street in Brussels, in front of the Beurs - Bourse stock exchange building, Sunday 07 June 2015. Brussels' residents organized the fourth edition of 'Picnic the Streets 2014' to ask a better mobility plan for the city centre. (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
06:25 13/06/2022

Ten years after the first Picnic the Streets, a peaceful citizens’ action where streets of the capital were occupied by people demanding a rebalancing of public space in favour of pedestrians and cyclists, activists staged a sit-in at the Porte de Flandre in Brussels this weekend, RTBF reports.

Police estimates suggest between 300 and 500 people gathered on Sunday on the bridge at the boundary between the City of Brussels and Molenbeek to protest the traffic conditions at the intersection of Rue Dansaert, the inner ring the Chaussée de Gand and Rue de Flandre. Attendees at Picnic the Bridge denounced the numerous incidents and altercations between cyclists, cars and pedestrians at the intersection.

According to organisers, the problems in the area represent "the living symbol of the unbearable slowness in Brussels politics," calling the Porte de Flandre a black spot because of the number of cars, traffic aggression, unhealthy air and noise pollution.

The CurieuzenAir citizen survey shows that the Porte de Flandre is one of the most polluted areas in Brussels. That has to change, says Lieselotte Gevens of city movement BRAL, one of the organisers, but so far, local government has not made any moves to address the problems. "You can see in the circulation plan for the city centre that the traffic situation has not been considered," she says.

The aim of the Picnic the Bridge campaign is therefore to encourage the city authorities to act and reduce car pressure, make the environment more liveable and more traffic friendly. Participant Joost Vandenbroele was at the first Picnic the Streets 10 years ago, launched by philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, and he laments the fact that little has changed. "We are here with a similar struggle and set of demands as we did then," he says.

Picnic the Bridge is a collaboration between several organisations, including the Fietserbond, Filter Café Filtré, Citizennne, Heroes for Zero, GRACQ and BRAL. The picnic action on the bridge is intended to be the first in a series of actions and a starting point for discussion and debate on traffic issues in Brussels.

Written by Nick Amies