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Brussels accelerates plan to make city center walkable

Brussels will close more streets to traffic this month and open them to pedestrians and cyclists. (Gwenael Piaser/flickr/cc)

Often maligned for an urban design that favors cars over people, Brussels is taking steps to become more walkable. Lewis MacDonald reports for Eltis that the city is accelerating plans to transform its center into a pedestrian-friendly zone. Beginning June 29, two weeks earlier than announced, the municipality will close affected streets to traffic.

The closures will last eight months before work commences on redesigning the roads for walkers, notes Eltis, an EU website about urban mobility. Some two-way streets will become one-way to accommodate more foot traffic. Many parking spaces will be removed, replaced with cycling lanes. Underground parking will be offered to residents in the zone who want to keep their cars.

But the pedestrianization scheme, championed by Mayor Yvan Mayuer, also has its critics. Writing in CityLab earlier this year, Feargus O’Sullivan pondered whether the plan would increase traffic along residential streets and ring roads outside the zone. Another concern is that those subterranean garages “could ensure that car dominance continues for decades.”


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