Cars partially allowed back in Bois de la Cambre in compromise deal
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Cars partially allowed back in Bois de la Cambre in compromise deal

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Motorised traffic will be partially allowed back in Brussels’ Bois de la Cambre from mid-December, in a last-minute deal to break a stalemate over a lockdown car ban around the capital’s largest park.

Brussels Mayor Philippe Close announced the compromise agreement on Monday, which will allow motorists to circulate around the park’s so-called southern loop from 14 December.

The deal will enable traffic to make continued use of the criss-cross of roads linking the northern and southern parts of the park and created as a key entryway into Brussels for drivers entering the city from the south.

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Avenue Diane will be reopened both ways as well as the segment between Avenue Louise and Avenue de la Belle Alliance, on which there will be one lane on the north-south direction and two south-to-north lanes.

A link between the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt —an upscale avenue lined with rows of embassies housed in stylish art-deco houses, on the northeast side of the park— to the Drève de Lorraine —which juts into the park from the southern suburbs— will be maintained via Avenue Boitsfort —which wraps around the south of the park— and the adjacent Avénue du Brésil, which will have one of its two bifurcating made a two-way street.

In a win to the City of Brussels, which, backed by regional mobility officials, championed the car ban in the park, the return of motorised traffic will be allowed only on weekdays or from Monday to Saturday for some of the roads.

The deal will also see a bus-only lane on Avénue du Brésil and on Avenue Boitsfort and also includes an agreement for the creation of a two-way bicycle lane on the latter, Le Soir reports.

Additionally, in another victory for pedestrianisation enthusiasts, both avenues will be closed to all vehicle traffic in the summer, from 15 July to 15 August, and no cars or motorised traffic will be allowed on the park on Sundays or on bank holidays.

The Avenue du Panorama, Avenue de Groendael and Avenue de la Sapinière, which loop around the northern part of the forest, will remain close to circulation, with motorists instead forced to make a detour through the built-up areas of the surrounding municipalities of Uccle, Ixelles or Watermael-Boitsfort.

The deal on Monday concludes a simmering feud between local officials in Brussels, brought to a head when Uccle challenged the car-ban in court following weeks of logjammed discussions with the City of Brussels, which owns the park.

Last month, the court ruled in favour of Uccle, which argued that road closures caused commuter traffic into Brussels to spill into its municipal roads, creating traffic headaches for local residents, forcing Brussels to undo the car ban or risk a hefty fine — a decision which saw pro-car ban regional mobility officials jump on the case and promise to appeal the ruling.

The deal on Monday includes further plans to hold consultations between authorities from Ixelles, Brussels and Watermael-Boitsfort, as well as with local police, in order to study the future of vehicle traffic in the park.

Welcoming the deal reached on Monday, Regional Mobility Minister Elke van Den Brandt said: “With this deal, we are adhering to the ruling while also keeping as many areas in the park car-free. This compromise shows that everybody understood that the Bois de la Cambre is not only an access road but also a precious slice of greenery.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times