Work has started today to remove car traffic from the strategic streets in the center of Brussels. Concrete dividing walls were lowered into place to create bike paths that will protect cyclists from the two-way trams that will continue to follow the passage.
Motorists will no longer be able to use any part of Rue Royale, one of the main boulevards in the center of Brussels. In mid-August, Rue Royale is only accessible to pedestrians, public transport, emergency services, cyclists and users of micromobility.
Approved in 2020, the works are part of the ambitious Mobility plan “Good Move” for the Brussels-Capital Region.
The relocation of private motorists between Rue de la Wet and Rue Louvain is in addition to similar relocations on major streets such as Rue du Congrès.
Avenue de Stalingrad will be a one-way street only and Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés will be pedestrianized.
Brussels has long been plagued by traffic congestion and poor air quality. The Municipality’s Good Move mobility plan aims to reduce car traffic and not only close the streets to car traffic, but also reduce the number of parking spaces in the inner city.
The plan was led by the green politician Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels minister of mobility. The Greens did well in the 2021 regional, national and European elections, forming the second largest party in the Brussels provincial government, just behind the traditionally dominant socialists.
Part of the Greens’ agreement to join the city council’s coalition for a transport reform, with less emphasis on catering for motorists, was not something that was all welcome.
“It is still cars that make up the largest part of our mobility,” said Lucien Beckers, president of Motor Defense, a group that aims to protect the interests of Belgian motorists.
“To want to delete [motor vehicles] is like wanting to eliminate nuclear power without having other sources of electricity,” Beckers said.
“You can’t do everything on foot,” he added.
The promoter group has demanded – in vain – that Van den Brandt stop the “repression” of motorists, saying its “battle against global warming” will not be won by alienating motorists.
“I’m not anti-car, I’m pro-human,” said Van den Brandt last year.
“Traffic congestion costs us between $4 billion and $8 billion in economic value annually,” she added.
“We know that the lungs of children growing up near a traffic artery are less developed. The urgency to do something in Brussels is enormous,” she emphasized.
The Good Move mobility plan aims to create a liveable city, with zero road deaths by 2030. The goal is to reduce car use by 24%, increase public transport by 34% and quadruple bicycle use. Fifty neighborhoods will also be transformed into car-free zones.
Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation, headquartered in Brussels, said of the start of today’s works: “As cycling advocates and as a Brussels-based organisation, ECF welcomes infrastructure improvements that enable more and safer cycling in the city. to make.”