'Don't let the loudest win': Pro-Good Move petition gets over 5,000 signatures

'Don't let the loudest win': Pro-Good Move petition gets over 5,000 signatures
Cyclists riding bikes during the Car Free Sunday in the Brussels Capital Region. Credit: Belga

Following the recent protests against Brussels' regional Good Move mobility plan, one resident's petition – in favour of the regional traffic changes to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists over cars – has reached over 5,000 signatures.

In recent months, petitions and protests against the plans to make various municipalities across the Capital Region largely car-free have surfaced in various municipalities have surfaced. But Grégoire Legrain, a resident of the Brussels municipality of Forest, decided to give voice to the people who welcome the changes.

"Those who shout against change always get more attention than the others. And that way, we are in danger of losing another 15 years," he said when he started the petition. Now, a month later, he collected more than 5,000 signatures – as many as two of the biggest counter-petitions combined.

With the petition, Legrain wanted to show that there are even more people like him who are in favour of the low-traffic neighbourhoods that the Good Move plan aims to achieve, creating residential areas without transit traffic.

That is why the petition aims to wake people up, he said. Good Move is a rare ambitious plan. "Even if it is not perfect, it should be given time to unfold and adapt. Brussels is not the first to take this direction and we can already see some really convincing results around us. You have to take a stand, otherwise those who shout loudest will win. Don't let them."

At the end of last month, following two consecutive evenings of protesting against the roll-out of the plan in the Cage-aux-Ours neighbourhood in Schaerbeek, a similar reasoning brought over 50 people living in the district to a local square to demonstrate in favour of the traffic changes, stating that "the Good Move plan will make the neighbourhood liveable again."

Additionally, Legrain pointed out to Bruzz that those affected by air pollution have not yet had a say in the debate, and neither have the children. "Children growing up in Brussels today do not know what it is like to have more space to play and go to their friends by bike."

Credit: Belga/James Arthur Gekiere

While he acknowledged that the participatory processes may not always have gone well, such as in Cage-aux-Ours, he thinks the idea that the Good Move suddenly came out of nowhere – instead of being the result of years of consultations – is harmful.

Legrain also reminded that in two years, elections will be held again and while Good Move was initially an idea of socialist State Secretary Pascal Smet and was "approved by an enthusiastic majority in the Brussels Parliament," the green parties Ecolo and Groen are becoming "more and more isolated as part of the French-speaking socialist PS party is ignoring them."

He will likely also launch another pro-Good Move petition at a local level in Forest, as the circulation plan in the Neerstalle district will be introduced there in the near future. "It is making some motorists angry now, yes, but pedestrians and cyclists have been angry for 30 years."

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