Following days of persistent vandalism, threats against local politicians, and an MP colliding with road furniture, Anderlecht mayor Fabrice Cumps wants to completely start over with the Brussels 'Good Move' traffic plan in his municipality.
The Good Move framework, which has been years in the making and was approved in 2020, prioritises pedestrians and cyclists over cars. The new circulation plan is being introduced across the Capital Region's municipalities in increments. But it has also caused confusion and frustration among drivers in certain areas.
"I proposed suspending the local mobility contract and starting from scratch. A new plan should be developed in close consultation with all residents at the level of micro-neighbourhoods," Cumps wrote in a Facebook post.
Since its introduction, the traffic plan in Cureghem has faced criticism and protest: concrete blocks to stop traffic on certain streets have been dragged away in the middle of the night; road signs have been painted over and traffic flow arrows mysteriously changed. A petition to scrap the plan has gathered nearly 6,000 signatures.
The biggest criticism of the plan is that the neighbourhood has more urgent problems to deal with than local mobility. Many residents were already in financial hardship which has been exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis.
'Maybe too ambitious'
"In addition to the petition and appeals to the City Council, many contacts on the ground show that locals misunderstand the intention of the plan", Cumps stated on Facebook. He added that many residents feel the city-wide plan favours some communities over others.
At a residents' meeting on Wednesday evening, Cumps acknowledged that a traffic plan "for all of Cureghem may have been too ambitious," De Standaard reports.
The statements followed an incident on Monday evening in which Brussels MP Juan Benjumea-Moreno slammed into one of the concrete blocks on his bicycle.
While the streets of Cureghem have been full of these concrete blocks since the traffic plan was introduced in August, the block was not where it was supposed to be, said Benjumea-Moreno.
"A group of people has been vandalising the Anderlecht traffic plan for weeks, changing the traffic layout. Hyperdangerous," he wrote, explaining that he took a turn on his bike in the dark and hit a concrete block head-on that had been moved across the bicycle lane.
The local councillor sustained injuries to his legs and shoulders and chipped a tooth. It is not clear whether the concrete block was placed there with the malicious intent of hitting cyclists.
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Responding to Cumps' statements, the office of Anderlecht City Councillor for Mobility Susanne Müller-Hübsch explained that the concrete blocks will now be removed to prevent vandalism. "But the traffic plan won't be scrapped. We will return to the neighbourhoods for a new round of resident consultations and to adjust the current plan."
Cumps explained that his responsibility as mayor is to monitor social cohesion: "This solution to start from scratch seems to be the most suitable for restoring local trust. We all understand the need for a mobility plan. But rather than reducing the debate to cars versus bicycles, it is essential to make public transport run more smoothly."