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Brussels wants smart traffic lights at all regional intersections by 2026

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Illustration picture shows red traffic lights in the city centre of Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
09:02 16/03/2021

By 2026, all intersections on regional roads should be equipped with smart traffic lights in a bid to reduce congestion in Brussels, according to the capital’s mobility ministry. For some opposition politicians, this timeframe is too far in the future and they have called for the technology to be rolled out faster.

Smart traffic lights are seen as one of the major weapons available to the Brussels region in its campaign to reduce congestion in the capital. The system can transfer data to Brussels Mobility in real time, making it possible to intervene in traffic flows in a targeted manner. In 2020, 42% of traffic lights on regional roads were equipped with the new technology. The goal is to reach 100% by 2026.

Members of the Reformist Movement (MR), the liberal opposition party in the regional government, think progress towards this goal is moving far too slow. "2026 is still a long way to go," said Anne-Charlotte d'Ursel, chairwoman of the mobility committee. "If the region is to achieve its goals, that pace of change must be higher. If we want to get better faster in terms of air quality, road safety and traffic jams, we need to be able to do it sooner."

Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt stressed the importance of the quality of the rollout over speed. "We will achieve the goals set but ensuring the quality of the adjustments made is also very important," she said.

A spokesperson for Brussels Mobility added that installing smart traffic lights requires "extensive work, with a lot of disruption."

Written by Nick Amies