Flemish city reduces speed limit to 20 km/h, an option for Brussels?

Flemish city reduces speed limit to 20 km/h, an option for Brussels?

From Friday 5 August, the entire city centre of Hasselt in the Limburg province will be turned into a residential zone, meaning that the speed limit will be reduced even further from the current 30 km/h to 20 km/h.

With the exception of the pedestrian zone in Hasselt city centre, the entire area within the inner ring road will be converted into a residential zone; the maximum speed for vehicles and (electric) bicycles will then be limited to 20 km/h.

"All road users will still be welcome in the city centre, but they must show maximum consideration for each other," the city council said in a press release. Additionally, the city of Hasselt wants to transform the streets with a current bumper-to-bumper mentality into green, lively and cosy streets in the future.

Parking will remain allowed, but only in the designated parking areas. This week, the city services started placing the new traffic signs, and the new regulation will effectively come into force on Friday.

An option for Brussels?

During the summer of 2020, the city of Brussels also temporarily turned its city centre into a residential area, aiming to make room for vulnerable road users and make it easier for people to respect the Covid social distancing measures at the time.

In September 2020, however, the speed limit went back up to 30 km/h in many Brussels areas, before the Regional Government implemented a zone 30 across the entire Capital Region.

"That was one and a half years ago now, and we have seen very good results: the average speed travelled by motorists in the area has continued to decrease," Marie Thibaut de Maisieres, spokesperson for Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt, told The Brussels Times.

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Some streets in the Brussels city centre definitely could be turned back into a residential area, but the idea is that all bigger streets will remain accessible for vehicles that are just passing through.

"A speed limit of 20 km/h is ideal in areas where many pedestrians, cars and buses mix. At that speed, everyone can be aware of each other," she said, referring to streets where the speed limit is showing positive results, such as the Chaussée d'Ixelles.

"Turning parts of the city into residential areas is a really great idea, but it should be considered locally, area by area," Thibaut de Maisieres added. "It is not something that we want to systemically install at the regional level."

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