Brussels launches initiatives to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety

Brussels launches initiatives to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety
A model of the underpass at the Sainctelette bridge. Credit: Bruxelles Mobilité

Two new initiatives are being developed in Brussels to make the city safer and more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly, especially around key areas on the city's network.

Bruxelles Mobilité, the Brussels-Capital Region administration responsible for mobility issues and infrastructure, announced it will apply for permits this week to create separate cyclist-safe underpasses at the busiest canal crossings in the northern part of the city.

"These three separate bike and footpaths under the busiest canal crossroads in the city will make a world of difference to the safety of the cyclists' route," said Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister of Mobility and Road Safety.

These crossing options will connect the existing bicycle highway along the canal from Vilvoorde in the north to Anderlecht in a safer and smoother way, and cyclists will be given the option to follow the underpasses before the intersection.

"We are creating safe passageways for cyclists and pedestrians, but we are also connecting the canal with the public space. That way, we give the canal and the public space around it back to the people of Brussels, who can enjoy a green, peaceful place," said Van den Brandt.

"In combination with the new bridges for cyclists and pedestrians in the city centre, the projects will give the canal a prominent place in the city again, for the inhabitants and passers-by," she added.

The underpasses will be constructed under the Van Praat bridge (connecting Schaerbeek and Laken), the Trooz bridge (Schaerbeek-Laken), and the Sainctelette bridge (Molenbeek-Brussels).

The location of the three bridges in Brussels. Credit: Bruxelles Mobilité

Once Bruxelles Mobilité has obtained a permit for the plans, works will begin on creating the underpasses in 2023.

More bicycle racks

The administration announced a second initiative on Monday to further improve the safety of vulnerable road users, as well as to increase the bicycle-friendliness of the city, by making adjustments to car parking spaces that are too close to pedestrian crossings.

"Every year, 46 people are killed or seriously injured when crossing the street. In 45% of the accidents involving pedestrians crossing on a zebra crossing, limited visibility plays an important role," a press release stated.

As part of this initiative, creating parking spaces that are located within a five-metre zone of a zebra crossing will be banned. Meanwhile, the approximately 155 existing parking spaces that do not follow this rule will be converted to bicycle parking spots, starting this Monday.

Credit: Bruxelles-Mobilité

Bruxelles Mobilité will replace each car parking space with around six bicycle racks, meaning a total of almost 1,000 new bicycle stands will be created across the city, including on Avenue Louise and Chaussée de Charleroi.

"These installations are a real win-win: we improve the visibility of the pedestrian crossings and thus road safety and at the same time we create bicycle parking spaces in neighbourhoods where demand is high," Van den Brandt said.

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