Minister indicates more 'car-free' days to come

19th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 September 2005, BRUSSELS - Brussels transport minister Pascal Smet has pledged to introduce more 'car-free' days in the Belgian capital due to the growing success of the annual event.

19 September 2005

BRUSSELS - Brussels transport minister Pascal Smet has pledged to introduce more 'car-free' days in the Belgian capital due to the growing success of the annual event.

Sunday’s car-free day was hailed a success once again as thousands of cyclists and pedestrians took over the city’s quiet streets and enjoyed the soft September sunshine.

Smet has now mooted the idea of instigating several car-free days throughout the summer, but restricting them to Brussels’ historic centre.

“The different communes of the historical centre – Bruxelles, Saint-Gilles, Ixelles – would be linked by corridors reserved only for cyclists and pedestrians,” the minister told Belga news agency.

Smet is also encouraging commune authorities to organise more local events to allow children to use the streets more freely.

He said he had noticed a visible change in attitude of Brussels city-dwellers during this last car-free day. The streets were invaded by a small army of cyclists and walkers, leading to a near carnival atmosphere in some locations.

“Lots of people were taking part in the car-free day with a smile on their face,” he said.

Although around one million cars normally drive daily through the streets of the city, only 25 000 derogations were requested for the annual event.

According to the police, much fewer people actually made use of their derogations.

The police also confirmed there had been no major incidents, although indicated that the ban on going through the city’s many traffic tunnels on foot or by bike had not been very well respected.

Officers had to spend much of the day replacing the barriers that had been removed by members of the public but said that no formal warnings had been issued.

Those who did not want to reach their destination on foot or by cycling were allowed to travel for free on the city’s public transport system, which was operating a fuller service than normal.

The public transport authority STIB said 18 500 tickets had been sold to people wanting to take advantage of a weekend special offer that allowed them to use public transport anywhere in the country for between EUR 8.50 and 10.50.

Around 13 000 people used the offer to travel to the Belgian coast, and the train service was reinforced to the level normally operating during the high peak tourist season.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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