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Schaerbeek residents lie in street to protest endless pedestrian accidents
Some 50 residents of Schaerbeek took to the streets in a wholly different way for a protest this morning. They didn’t march but lay on the ground. The action was in protest at the accidents involving pedestrians that are happening in the municipality at an alarming rate.
Last week, a girl of 14 was struck by a car and seriously injured on Chaussée de Helmet. It was the fourth serious accident in seven months involving speeding drivers along the same 800 metres of the road. Then just yesterday, a young child was struck on the nearby Rue Gallait – in front of a school.
Neighbourhood organisation 1030/0 launched in late 2017 soon after journalist Stephanie Verbraekel was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Schaerbeek. Two months after that accident, a father and his five-year-old daughter were injured in a hit-and-run at the entrance to a Schaerbeek playground.
1030/0 organised the action today, which saw people lying in the intersection where the girl was hit last week. Police blocked the intersection for the protest.
Protestors wore bandages on their heads, emulating the injury sustained by the girl when she was struck. The driver sped away and was later apprehended by police. It turned out that his license had been revoked following a previous hit-and-run.
“It appears to have become a sport for our politicians to compare different cities’ lack of road safety,” 1030/0 wrote on its Facebook page today. “In reality, the entire country has a horrendous record when it comes to traffic safety. Between 2006 and 2015, cities like Dublin and Copenhagen cut their road safety deaths in half. Other cities reduced the number of victims by 30, 25 or 20%. Brussels? 7% fewer, the worst result in the class. The lack of road safety isn’t fate. It’s a political choice.”
The organisation is referring to comments made by Schaerbeek mayor Bernard Clerfayt (Défi) that Schaerbeek’s record is no worse than other municipalities, it just makes its way into the media because of 1030/0. Clerfayt himself received a fine earlier this month for speeding in his own municipality: He was flashed by a speed camera going 38 in a 30k zone.
Because of the efforts of 1030/0, all of Schaerbeek is now a 30k zone, and traffic policing has been stepped up. “But ambitions to improve things are much too low,” Pieter Fannes of the organisation told VRT. “In all of Belgium, in fact. We must dare to question the mobility policy. Why has traffic safety been a priority in the Netherlands and in Scandinavian countries and not here?”
Photo courtesy 1030/0