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Brussels launches ambitious plan for pedestrianised centre
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