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Residents collective begins two weeks of protest against Bois de la Cambre traffic ban
Two weeks of action by Brussels residents opposed to the ban on motor vehicle traffic in the Bois de la Cambre, one of the biggest parks in the Belgian capital, began on Monday.
The collective 'Against the closure of the Bois de la Cambre' have printed 20,000 posters which will be displayed in the municipalities that are closest to the green space while flyers will be distributed to local residents, business owners and motorists. A demonstration is also being considered to protest the ban instigated by the City of Brussels.
In September, the City of Brussels closed most roads around the park to motorised traffic as a pilot test with a view of making the area car-free in the long term. While the park technically belongs to the territory of the City of Brussels, it cuts into the territory of Uccle in the south of the capital region.
The public collective’s campaign comes as the municipality of Uccle prepares to appeal the decision by the City of Brussels in the capital’s Court of First Instance on 19 October. The mayor of Uccle’s cabinet said the appeal would seek to push Brussels to backtrack on the car ban and to bind any similar decisions in the future to an impact study.
Diverting more traffic into Uccle would effectively “clog up” the municipality and detrimentally affect the lives of its inhabitants, the mayor’s cabinet added, saying that the move by the City of Brussels was not in line with wider mobility projects spearheaded by the Brussels Region. Changes to mobility in the area would have to fit in with the regional government’s Good Move plan, the cabinet insisted.
The Good Move plan focuses on creating car-free neighbourhoods in Brussels, improving public transport, and ensuring smoother traffic circulation. The Brussels government aims to reduce the use of cars by 24% and transit traffic by 34%. At the same time, it wants to quadruple bicycle use, give back 130,000m² of public space to the capital’s residents and create fifty neighbourhoods with low car traffic.
“We are working with lawyers to resume negotiations in a smarter way,” explains Stéphane Davidts, a member of the Association for the Protection of Residents of the Bois de la Cambre. “There is a question of complying with the Good Move plan approved earlier this year by the Brussels government, which provides for a city with fewer cars, but this is a 10-year plan. Therefore, it is not right that after three months we must close the Bois de La Cambre, without providing alternatives.”
According to the public collective, people living in the southern Brussels metropolitan area are cut off from a main link with the capital, due to a lack of metro lines and local trains. Stéphane Davidts also notes that the municipalities of the south are home to an ageing population, one less inclined to cycle into the city.
“My wife and two sons ride bikes and I have done it myself for 30 years, but many of those who will continue to travel to Brussels will do so by car for reasons of health or comfort,” he said. “In addition, forcing ambulances from the hospitals situated by the wood to get stuck in traffic is also criminal.”