Frustrated residents rally for pedestrian safety in Brussels

Frustrated residents rally for pedestrian safety in Brussels
Photo from GRACQ.

Around a hundred people gathered at Saint-Gilles on Monday to rally for road safety following the death of two children who were struck and killed by a truck at an intersection in Antwerp.

The rally was organised by a coalition of associations, including the Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens (GRACQ), which represents French-speaking cyclists in Belgium.

“Regardless of the means of transport they choose, all citizens have the right to travel safely,” Florine Cuignet of GRACQ wrote in a statement.

“One way to improve safety on our roads is to give greater consideration to the most vulnerable road users in high-risk areas, such as intersections.”

One intersection of concern in Brussels is at Avenue Albert in the Forest neighbourhood, where a cyclist was struck and killed by a car earlier this year.

That intersection had already been reported as dangerous to the Brussels Mobility agency, and a petition was even launched by area residents to install traffic calming devices.

“In Belgium, too many accidents occur at intersections designed primarily to regulate the flow of traffic,” Cuignet wrote.

“Ignored or not taken into account enough by public authorities, active users are the first victims.”

Translation: Following the death of two children on a dangerous intersection in Antwerp, several associations are mobilising to demand more safety on our roads! In Brussels, the rally is taking place at the Saint-Gilles barrier.

At the rally in Brussels on Monday, participants sometimes occupied the intersection in what they said was a statement about how safety should take precedence over traffic flow.

They chose the intersection at the Saint-Gilles barrier because they said it’s a particularly complex one for all users - whether they be pedestrians, cyclists or drivers - and that the long-promised redevelopment there is still pending.

“It’s time to make clear choices to promote road safety,” said Cuignet.

“We can no longer tolerate road casualties. With 183 deaths and 18,758 injuries in our country in the first quarter of 2021, politicians talk about traffic flow and congestion. Too often, the choices made on the ground do not sufficiently benefit road safety.”

The Brussels demonstration was organised by GRACQ, Fietsersbond, Heroes for Zero, Voetgangersbeweging, Greenpeace, Parents d'Enfants Victimes de la Route and Filter Café Filtré.

At the same time as people gathered in Brussels, other demonstrations took place in Flemish cities.

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