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Brussels launches ambitious plan for pedestrianised centre

11:29 25/11/2014

Brussels-City authorities have released a radical new car-free street plan, inspired by Ghent and Bruges, which they claim will ultimately give the capital the largest car-free zone in Europe after Venice.

The plan was launched yesterday by Brussels-City mayor Yvan Mayeur, alderwoman for transport, Els Ampe and the Brussels-Capital Region’s mobility minister, Pascal Smet.

The goal of the long-awaited plan is to stop through traffic in the city centre while allowing it to remain accessible to residents. Several new districts will become pedestrianised, including the central boulevards, the Sablon/Zavel and the Dansaert quarter. In addition, some streets will be reduced to one lane of traffic.

A free electric train would be introduced for pedestrians and tourists, and five new underground car parks would be built to hold some 1,600 cars.

Critics of the plan have argued that it will simply shift traffic congestion to other areas of Brussels, but the council claims that the inner ring will be designed to carry more through traffic through the installation of smart traffic lights. The plan also involves transport authority MIVB, which plans to divert several routes and move bus terminals away from Bourse/Beurs and De Brouckere.

The city also wants to create several dedicated cycle lanes in the centre and around the inner ring, Smet said. A new underground bike park would be built in the Bourse/Beurs metro station. He described the cycle plan as “unbelievably positive”.

The new traffic plan will be partly tested during the Christmas market, when both Boulevard Jacqmain/Jacqmainlaan and Rue de Laeken/Lakenstraat will be reduced to one-way traffic.

But the biggest change will happen on July 18, 2015, when the Place de la Bourse/Beursplein is officially made car-free (pictured).

The city council is aware that this is an ambitious project that will cause enormous upheaval. But Mayeur called on Brussels citizens to give it a chance. “It is going to take two years to sort everything out,” he admitted, “but the quality of life for everyone will improve immensely afterwards.”

 

image courtesy vrt.prophets.be

Written by Derek Blyth

Comments

Anon2

So now people will be even easier targets as they stroll through dangerous and ugly downtown Brussels. Quality of life will improve for whom? Muggers? Where does all the money come from for such absurd projects?

Nov 25, 2014 12:11
maurizio.canfora.5

The only quality of life which is going to improve is the one of those living in Ixelles or in the Woluwés, who come to the city centre to go to the movies or to celebrate a football victory. For those who actually live in the city cenre, it will just be a nightmare. And please explain why bus and public transport should be moved away from Bourse/De Brouckère...

Nov 25, 2014 12:38
Dominik

Changes like these have been sorely needed in Brussels for a long time. Good to see that local politicians finally have the courage to get serious about them.

Nov 25, 2014 16:07
Jogilabe

I think anything has to be an improvement on the way the centre of Brussels has become. I take the point of the reader who said that it will be an opportunity for pick pockets and muggers. I hope account has been taken of this when police presence is organised, afterall they won't be able to patrol in their cars anymore. The big issue of central Brussels has always been the cleanliness of the streets. Will this plan change that??

Nov 26, 2014 13:16
acsonline

@Anon -- If you cannot beat them, join them. Or simply go home? Always the best solution, verbal muggers included.- PS: the centre of Brussels is the Grand'Place and...it isn't a bit ugly!

Dec 4, 2014 14:51