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Residents collective begins two weeks of protest against Bois de la Cambre traffic ban

Barriers across an entrance to the Bois de la Cambre in Brussels prevents traffic entering (BELGA)
10:08 13/10/2020

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.”

Written by Nick Amies

Comments

kplathia

I live in Uccle but I support this ban to create a healthy area in the city without traffic fumes - one area where children and parents can enjoy nature without cars.
Within Uccle there are many ways to city centre by public transport!

Oct 14, 2020 08:35
leonard.schrank

I live in Uccle and the closing of the Bois during the week is insane. On weekends, ok. But weekdays we must keep the Bois open to allow smooth north/south traffic flow. The resulting traffic jams and pollution on the streets of Uccle caused by this poorly planned decision is unacceptable. Also on weekdays there are only a few people walking their dogs or walking / jogging around the lake. The Bois is nearly empty. Who benefits from the closing? Answer--nobody.
Leonard H. Schrank, former President, AmCham Belgium.

Oct 14, 2020 10:22
Anon3

The trouble in Brussels is that the politicians in power think they can do as they please. It seems that traffic engineers and/or other actual experts are not used or even consulted.

Oct 14, 2020 13:00
joekirwin@compu...

I live 100 meters from the Bois de la Cambre and I can attest that there are many people that take advantage of the car-free roads in the Bois during the week days morning noon and night. This was the case during the lockdown in March when the Bois was closed to traffic all week instead of just weekends as has been the case for years.. This frequency of use has continued especially as so many people in the area are still working from home. It should be noted that as of September buses, including those transporting children to school, are allowed to pass through the Bois.
While I agree that the current traffic issue is probably causing more air pollution than it is reducing. However the noise pollution has dropped considerably. The increased traffic congestion and concomitant air emissions has to do primarily with the failure of commuters to adapt and use public transport. There are multiple options to use the train, tram or bus to get in and out of downtown Brussels, the EU quarter, the airport or elsewhere. Allowing bikes on the trains and trams for free have made it even more practical.
But it is no secret that many of the well-to-do inhabitants in and around the Bois as well as those that commute through the area from Waterloo, Lasne, Rhode-Saint-Genesse, Linkebeek etc. are averse for various reasons to using public transport. This same mentality led many years ago to a successful campaign to block the Metro from arriving in the area near the Bois.
That said one important public transport change is required: there is a desperate need to coordinate the three ```feeder'' buses that travel the length of Chaussee de la Waterlooi to and from the Gare due Midi and beyond. Instead of three an hour all within five or 10 minutes of each other, they should be staggered every 20 minutes. Of course the reason they are not staggered is a classic Belgian problem as each of the three hourly buses is part of a different regional transport network (Stib, TEC and De Lijn).
At the end of the day the opposition to closing the Bois permanently to traffic is a classic NIMBY (not in my backyard) issue. I am sure that most civic-minded, concerned citizens of the area and those in the southern suburbs recognize that climate change is a serious issue that requires everyone making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. And that includes simple behavioral changes whether it be using public transport or cycling or the combination of the two.
Being a Uccle commuter who went car-free three years ago I support the closure of the Bois. I know first-hand that it is very easy to get anywhere in Brussels using public transport. I suggest all of the opponents to the Bois closure give it a try if they have not.

Oct 15, 2020 22:28