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Municipal authorities remove citizens' bicycle shed in Schaerbeek
A bicycle shed built by citizens of Schaerbeek was removed by municipal workers on Thursday after a deadline for the removal of the homemade garage, set by the commune authorities, passed without action being taken.
Xavier Damman and Leen Schelfhout, the couple behind both the citizens' bicycle shed and the street garden on Rue Godefroid Devreese, have not given up hope of an agreement being reached with the authorities to reinstall the structure. The bicycle shed was built by the couple and their neighbours, next to the street garden they installed in front of their unused garage gate. Another garden was then built on top of the bicycle shed.
In the absence of commune-supplied bicycle boxes in the district, the wooden construction was eagerly used by local residents. The secure structure had space for six to 12 bikes - and had received €5,000 funding from the Brussels region.
However, the bicycle shed took up a parking space, which was the main issue for the municipality of Schaerbeek. This type of citizen project was outside the administrative framework, it said. And so, the bike box had to go.
The couple were asked to disassemble their construction by 6 January. The local residents hoped that mayor Cécile Jodogne would change her mind, but she did not. "We want to achieve the same goal, but we are taking a different path," Jodogne explained in a letter. "We must first establish a clear and clear regulatory framework for citizens' initiatives in our municipality."
The mayor of Schaerbeek praised the initiators of the Citizen Gardens. "Because the debate on the level of civic engagement and interpretation of public space has been launched," says Jodogne. "There is no framework yet to support this type of project. We're working on that. Pending that framework, this remains a temporary project."
Xavier Damman and Leen Schelfhout reduced the size of the bicycle shed and an application was also submitted to the municipality to recognise the garden on top of it. But even a mostly positive citizen survey in the district was to no avail. On Thursday morning, municipal workers dismantled the construction.
Note: In a previous version of this article, the names Matthieu Henkens and Lien Schelfhout were used incorrectly.