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Bois de la Cambre agreement leads to partial reopening of south loop

Illustration picture shows car traffic, cyclists and pedestrians in Bois de La Cambre - Ter Kamerenbos, in Brussels, Sunday 22 March 2020. (BELGA PHOTO PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY)
10:58 08/12/2020

The City of Brussels, after consultation with the municipalities of Uccle, Ixelles and Watermael-Boitsfort, will allow traffic on part of south loop of the Bois de la Cambre from 14 December, but only between the Drève de Lorraine and the Avenue du Brésil. As a result, most of the forest will remain car-free. The new test phase will last at least six months before undergoing a review.

In September, the City closed off most of Bois de la Cambre, which is in Brussels' territory, but is adjacent to Uccle, Ixelles and Watermael-Boitsfort, to car traffic during a two-month test phase. The City wanted to test whether it could drastically reduce car traffic in the forest while largely reserving the green area for hikers, cyclists, joggers, and other non-motorised forest users.

The test phase developed into a fierce battle between the supporters and opponents of a car-free forest. The municipality of Uccle was the most vociferous opponent, as it became the focus of the diverted traffic. This led to legal action which eventually overturned the decision of the City of Brussels with a judge ruling that the south loop of the forest had to reopen.

Initially it looked as though the City would have to reopen the entire forest to car traffic but after a consultation between Brussels and the four neighbouring municipalities, an agreement has been reached where a small part of the south loop will be opened in two directions. All in all, a large part of the Bois de la Cambre remains car-free; a much larger proportion than before March of this year, when it was fully accessible to car traffic during the weekdays.

During weekends, however, there will be a separate rule. On Saturdays, the entire south loop, which runs around the pond and is extremely popular with cyclists and roller skaters, will remain closed to car traffic. On Sundays, the entire forest remains closed to car traffic. During the school holidays (in the summer from 15 July to 15 August) the Saturday regime also applies.

"We are implementing the judge's decision," said mobility minister Bart Dhondt. "No less and certainly not more. And this in close consultation with the neighbouring municipalities. This is good news for the many joggers, walkers, cyclists, and roller skaters. The Bois de la Cambre will never again be the race track it was, but already looks more like the green oasis it should be."

For Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt, it was important to reach an agreement. "With this decision, the verdict is respected and most of the forest remains car-free,” she said. “This compromise shows that everyone has understood that the Bois de la Cambre is not only an important route, but also a valuable park."

 

Written by Nick Amies