May 1, 2019
The Belgian capital is one of the most congested in Europe. But an ambitious suite of street makeovers is pushing traffic outside the central city.
Right now, there can be an almost eerie calm to some sections of central Brussels. Take an evening stroll down down Boulevard Anspach, the broad avenue that forms the Belgian capital’s spine, and you may find the roadway empty, its limestone and wrought-iron facades echoing the footsteps of a rare passer-by on the sidewalk.
This uncanny silence in the heart of a blaring metro area of 2.2 million residents—known as one of Europe’s most notoriously congested capitals—is no accident. Right now the Brussels Capital Region is slowly drawing towards completing one of the most ambitious pro-pedestrian makeovers yet seen this century. Carried out on a scale only Madrid can really compete with, Brussels is systematically banishing anything but emergency and delivery vehicles from a large network of streets and squares that are not just central, but axial.
Generally referred to by its French name Le Piétonnier(the pedestrian zone), this area’s adaptation has been underway since 2015, and is due to be 70 percent complete by the end of 2019. This year already, ribs of paving stone have spread to cover the car lanes of central Place de Brouckère (viewable here on webcam), a busy crossroads that’s been dubbed the Times Square of Brussels (which, until the recent makeover, wasn’t much of a square at all). To its south, cars have been banished from Boulevard Anspach and its many cross streets (whose roadway remains fenced off in parts—hence the islands of calm), to make it a permanently friendly space to people, trees, and bikes.
Meanwhile, the square surrounding Brussels’ opulent stock exchange finally makes sense as a unified, car-free space. This vision, outlined in a slick video rendering below, is already ambitious—the video showcases a beguiling pedestrian boulevard laden with trees, green spaces, and cafes. Last month, however, the city upped the stakes further by promising to expand the pedestrian zone before it has even been completed.
A New Battle Over Car-Free Boulevards in Brussels – CityLab
Feargus O’Sullivan May 1, 2019 The Belgian capital is one of the most congested in Europe. But an ambitious suite of street makeovers is pushing traffic outside the central city. Right now, there can be an almost eerie calm to some sections of central Brussels. Take an evening stroll down down Boulevard Anspach, the broad… [Read More]