'Guerilla urbanism': new bicycle lanes on Brussels Rue de la Loi denounced

'Guerilla urbanism': new bicycle lanes on Brussels Rue de la Loi denounced
Credit: Dimitri Strobbe/Twitter screengrab

The quick rollout of the two-metre-wide cycling lanes on the Rue de la Loi in front of the Parliament in Brussels is "an extreme example of guerilla urbanism," says the Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI).

On Saturday, Brussels alderman Bart Dhondt announced that the ochre-coloured cycling lanes would be created in both directions and the works started just two days later on Monday, as Dhondt did not wait for the necessary permit, says Olivier Willocx of BECI.

"Of course, we know that the Groen and Ecolo parties are pursuing a vision in which cars are banned from the streets as much as possible so that eventually everyone will opt for soft modes of mobility," he said in a press release.

"But this latest feat is an extreme example of the 'guerrilla urbanism' that the environmental movement is so fond of using to speed up radical measures and infrastructure works," Willocx added.

The cycle paths were created on the stretch of road between the inner ring road and the Rue Ducale, at the end of the Rue de la Loi that is used to enter or leave the city.

Beci wonders why everything happened so quickly and wants to know from Dhondt whether all the legal requirements are in order. "What about the feasibility study, impact analysis, consultation round and compliance with the applicable authorisation procedures?"

Markings, not separate cycling paths

According to Dhondt, the procedures were followed and the authorities are doing the maximum within the legal framework provided by the regional mobility Good Move plan and the City 30 project.

"That plan has already been approved by the Region and the Brussels Parliament, and we are following it to improve the cycling infrastructure where possible within the proper, legal framework," he told The Brussels Times.

"In the first instance this will happen via markings, in the second instance via permits," said Dhondt, adding that the markings for cycling lanes in the Rue de la Loi do not require an urban planning permit.

These markings are not elevated, separate cycle paths, which would indeed require permits, he explained. "A permit for that was applied for during the previous legislature, but it was rejected."

"It is not easy to obtain permits to build elevated separate cycle paths but we are already doing what we can as far as markings are concerned," Dhondt said.

This project has been ongoing for two years, with different analyses by the Mobility departments as well as through contact with the Prime Minister and the relevant authorities.

"The analysis established that the Rue de la Loi has a serious problem with road safety," Dhondt said, referring to one particular driver who was caught driving at 158 km/h.

"In general, 70% of motorists drive too fast there, which is why we are making traffic safety an absolute priority," he said. "These cycle paths are just a continuation of that."

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