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High-tech wheelchair used to make Brussels' pavements more pedestrian-friendly
Brussels is working on making its pedestrian infrastructure more accessible, with a new charter aimed at local authorities and city planners.
At least a third of all movement around Brussels is done by foot, and the region is hoping to increase that in the coming years. Improving the quality of pavements benefits all pedestrians, particularly those with reduced mobility, the elderly and people travelling with small children.
Following an 18-month study in which a wheelchair fitted with sensors was used to test 150 existing pedestrian facilities, Brussels Mobility and the Research Centre for Road Construction have launched a charter to improve the quality of its pavements. It is part of the region’s Good Move mobility plan.
The charter describes what good pedestrian infrastructure looks like and what materials are suitable. There are three important criteria: how flat the surface is, how slippery it is, and how much it slopes. Sandstone cobbles score badly for comfort, for example, compared to blue paving stone. The depth and width of the gaps between the stones also have an impact on comfort.
All the results will be recorded in a central database, which is aimed at authorities who want to redevelop their public space and should set standards for designers. The aim is to determine which materials and which installation techniques give the best results and to monitor the evolution of infrastructure quality.
“Making public space accessible to everyone is a major challenge in the pedestrian-friendly policy that the Brussels-Capital Region has pursued for many years,” a Brussels Mobility spokesperson said. “In particular, taking this accessibility into account means that the needs of all users are considered when designing new establishments.”
Photo courtesy Brussels Mobility