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Brussels 30km/h speed limit has worked, say authorities

09:37 27/01/2024

Three years after the introduction of a general 30km/h zone on the majority of Brussels' roads, the city’s mobility authorities say the strategy is working.

Noise pollution, speeding and the number of injured pedestrians and car occupants are all decreasing, according to mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen).

On roads where there was already a 30km/h limit before the general rule was introduced, motorists' speeds fell from 29.4km/h in 2020 to 26.9km/h in 2023 on average.

In a zone 50 that was converted into a zone 30, the average speed went from 33.6km/h in 2020 to 30.1km/h in 2023.

Streets that have kept their 50km/h also saw a significant drop in average speeds, from 44.7km/h to 39km/h.

For drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike, the number of casualties is now at its lowest level since 2010. There has also been a decrease in injuries among cyclists and scooter users.

“Fewer accidents, fewer victims, less noise: the 30km/h zone makes our city more pleasant and more liveable,” said Van Den Brandt.

“Brussels is a pioneer in Europe, with cities like Prague and Amsterdam taking the same path.”

Nevertheless, authorities do not intend to rest on their laurels. More measures are coming, including additional speed cameras.

Brussels Mobility has been measuring speeds at 80 locations in the capital every year since November 2020, Bruzz reports, and 14 new speed cameras will be installed at a number of critical traffic points, including Avenue du Panthéon in Koekelberg.

David Leisterh, leader of the Brussels MR - the main opposition party - was less enthusiastic about the results of the zone 30 strategy three years in.

“Fewer accidents? You'd have to be quick to say so, if you look at the figures,” Leisterh said.

“And even then, we don't have all the figures for 2023. The end of February will allow us to consolidate all the figures.

"This measure was sold to us as a way of reducing the number of accidents. I don't see this reduction as drastic as they are trying to sell it to us. In that respect, it's not a success, quite the contrary."

Brussels Mobility said accident figures for 2020 and 2021 were abnormally low, and 2022 was marked by a “a slackening in terms of road safety”.

“During Covid, there was less traffic, and therefore fewer accidents,” Van den Brandt said, adding that 2023 will be the main benchmark to compare to 2019 and the preceding years.

“When remote working ended and people went back to work, we saw an increase in accidents, not just in Brussels but throughout the country. So it was difficult to analyse the figures for the last few years.”

Written by Helen Lyons