Brussels boasts "second biggest pedestrian area in Europe" after Venice Author: Michaël Torfs

Belga
Sun 28/06/2015 - 17:00 Michaël Torfs Monday 29 June sees the official installation of the pedestrian area in central Brussels. The car-free zone will be extended from 28 to 50 hectares (123.55 acres). Brussels will boast Europe's second biggest pedestrian area in a large city, after Venice, the Brussels Alderwoman for Mobility, Els Ampe, says. Motorists wanting to reach the city centre will have to take into account a completely different situation.

Until now, the pedestrian area was concentrated around the central market place Grote Markt. The surface will almost be doubled to cover a bigger part of the area between the inner ring road with the Brussels tunnels, the co-called pentagon. The plan is to have as few cars as possible inside this pentagon area.

The mobility plan this could lead to big disruption, critics say, pointing to the fact that traffic jams are already taking a lot of people's time. Supporters claim it is giving the city centre more breathing space, and that it will be to the benefit of both tourists and local residents. The move is being made after 12 long years of intense debate.

Main change concerns Anspach and De Brouckère

The biggest change for motorists is that the north-south axe between Rogier and South Station/Midi is being cut, as the Anspach Avenue (top photo) becomes a pedestrian zone between De Brouckère and Fontainas. Click here to get an overview.

3 kilometres of cycleways will be created, but this mainly applies to stretches where the road will be painted. The new mobility plan also implies changes to public transport. Click here for more details for the Brussels public transport company MIVB and here for the Flemish transport company De Lijn.

Several events and celebrations took place on Sunday on Anspach near the Beurs area to celebrate the new mobility scheme (photo below). An estimated 100,000 people turned up to take a look and to walk through the car-free streets. It's just a pilot project at present, an evaluation is to follow and adaptations are possible.

VRT