There is no doubt that transport activities do have a harmful impact on our environment. The effects of noise and carbon monoxide emissions, for example, are widely known. Cities across the globe are trying to come up with solutions to this problem. How does or did Belgian’s capital city Brussels deal with this challenge?
“If there were better public transport services, there would necessarily be fewer cars in the city and therefore also less pollution.” – An idea that 65-year-old resident Henry shared with us. This day, he’s travelling in Brussels by bike, although he usually must rely on public transport services. According to him, the waiting times for busses often are way to long and many districts are just not well served at all. He appeals to the government in Brussels to take real action. In fact, a certain government accord, which was made earlier in July this year, already included several measures on mobility.
The agreement included plans to expand several metro lines, as well as two bus lines. It also promised a study on free travel for under 25-year-olds and over 65-year-olds. Concerning car traffic, the accord also guarantees a ban on all diesel cars in the region by 2030 and they want to keep discussing the question of a road toll on private cars. By realizing these measures and more, the Brussels government intends to reduce the primacy of the care and make the capital CO2-free by 2050. These ambitious measurements seem to reach far into the future. However, some action should already be taken sooner.
According to the Brussels Times, the “Zone 30” will come into force in the Brussels-Capital region from the beginning of 2021 onwards. This speed limit of only 30 kilometres per hour is supposed to be applied on all roads in the region except of the major structural axe roads. According to a statement of Brussels Minister of Mobility, Elke Van den Brandt, in “Le Soir”, this measurement targets several issues at the same time: the improvement of the residents’ well-being, traffic security and noise and pollution reduction, for example.
At the same time, resident Henry wouldn’t leave it all to the government itself. Primarily, we all have a certain responsibility to contribute something meaningful. “There should be an individual awareness on the part of all citizens, which would then push politicians to address the problem more consequently”, states the 65-year-old. Just like Henry, resident Laurence also is of the opinion that there would be a lot to improve about Brussels’ public transport system. While waiting for the next bus to arrive, the 54-year-old woman explains that it sometimes takes her a very long time to travel from one end of the city to another. She agrees with the statement, that a better public transport system would reduce the number of cars in the city. Besides the environmental issue, however, Laurence adds another problematic aspect concerning the traffic in Belgian’s capital city.
“The people are acting way to carelessly in traffic, even when it comes to respecting the traffic lights, for example”, reports the 54-year-old. Unfortunately, the results of the “Goed op weg” survey launched in 2018 supports her impression. Of all the 1.562 people in Brussels who responded to the survey, only about half of them feel safe as transport users. According to the numbers published in the Brussels Times, only 14% of the participants feel entirely safe in Brussels traffic. The most striking aspect appears to be the lack of respect between the different road users – that’s what more than half of the participants responded.
Finally, it seems like Brussels’ government and residents have a lot to work on in order to improve their own well-being as well as the environmental changes. Even though the measurements mentioned up above might be efficient approaches, the process of the actual implementation is advancing at a rather slow pace. “There have already been improvements recently, but it is not enough”, says 54-year-old Laurence who ended up waiting for her bus about 25 minutes longer due to a traffic jam in the city centre.
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