Brussels' central ring road to transform into pedestrian-friendly route

Brussels' central ring road to transform into pedestrian-friendly route
The section of the ring road that will be tackled. Credit: Brussels Mobility

What is currently a busy, traffic-heavy section of the central ring road in the north of Brussels will soon be transformed into a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly route.

The planned makeover of Avenue Van Praet and Avenue des Croix du Feu, a 3-kilometre section of the central ring road (R21) which runs along the right flank of Parc de Laeken, has received its urban development permit. Works will soon start to revamp the living environment of the residents of Neder-Over-Heembeek and improve it for pedestrians and cyclists passing through.

"The reconstruction of Avenue Van Praet and Avenue des Croix du Feu is part of our ambition to better arrange public space to the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists. We will make the public space safer and more beautiful, with new plants and trees and quality urban furniture," said Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for Town Planning.

The 3-kilometre section of the central ring road (R21) will be reconstructed. Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

She stressed that the aim is not to completely ban cars from the city, but instead to continue allowing vehicles to pass through the section between the Chaussee de Vilvorde and the Gros Tilleul roundabout, whilst providing more space for relaxing, playing, sports and nature. "We want to transform them into places where everyone feels at home."

Two lanes become one

The construction works will see a change in the direction of traffic: car traffic will travel along Avenue Van Praet (currently a dual carriageway for traffic heading south) in both directions. The speed of traffic will decrease, but because there will be fewer traffic lights, it will still be possible to drive smoothly, Persoons explained.

This transformation of the road layout will free up space on Avenue des Croix du Feu for pedestrians and cyclists over the A12, who can use a striking new bridge to cross from the park path over the central ring road to reach Parc de Laeken.

The car-free path will also connect various parks and green spaces: the gardens of the Chinese Pavilion, Parc du Laeken, Ossegem Park, the area around the Neptune Fountain, the Royal Greenhouses and the Japanese Tower. Squares are also being created on both sides of the Chinese Pavilion.

Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

"With the reconstruction of Avenue Van Praet and Avenue des Croix du Feu, a busy motorway is giving way to a quiet urban boulevard," said Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt.

"Everyone will win: the avenues will become smoother, safer and more accessible for all modes of traffic, and more liveable and greener for local residents. A lot of public space will be freed up, which we will give back to the people of Brussels."

In parallel with the reconstruction, the new tram line 10 to Neder-Over-Heenbeek will be added. The project foresees the inclusion of three tram stops (Heembeek, Araucaria and Braambosjes). Meanwhile, the parking spaces that are removed along the R21 will be compensated with new spaces for locals next to the Avenue des Croix du Feu.

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The works are divided into four major successive phases, starting on 4 September. The first phase, until December 2023, will see the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Avenue Van Praet and Avenue des Croix du Feu.

Once this roundabout is built (December 2023), traffic on Avenue Van Praet will be able to travel in two directions and through traffic on Avenue des Croix du Feu will end definitively. This will be followed by a safe crossing, the construction of the bridge over the A12 at the top of the section and finally, the creation of green space, sports and leisure zones.

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