Brussels opened the new pedestrian walkway in the town centre on Sunday, at around Midday. Around 25,000 people turned up, according to police who contacted the organisers. Lièdo, an 8 metre tall wicker giant made by “L’Homme debout”, walked from the Place De Brouckère to where the walkway currently ends, in the rue du Lombard. He was followed by several hundred people. He walked back to the Place de la Bourse at 1.30pm, and sat down.
The atmosphere was very festive. DJ Jérôme Porsperger mixed classical music on the Place De Brouckère until 6pm, and brass bands played on the boulevards in the town centre. There were interactive frescos and workshops set up along the walkway between Place De Brouckère and Place de la Bourse. Children could make wooden toys and kites. You could also rent sports equipment and roller skates.
Mayor Yvan Mayeur said the festive atmosphere was a sign of profound change. “It’s a revolution. The face and atmosphere of the town has changed today. We will live in a happier town, which is more adapted to residents, not cars. I think change will be felt very quickly. I hope other communes will do the same”. “Today, we are the European capital with the largest pedestrian zone. As I meet with them regularly, I know that my European colleagues are following suit. All the big cities in Europe have traffic congestion problems and adaptied to cars too heavily. Many are taking measures to solve the problem: Anne Hidalgo in Paris has a very voluntarist policy. Ignazio Marino has banned traffic around the Colosseum in Rome… We are all heading the same way in Europe”, the mayor added.
Sports and culture authorities will hold activities along the walkway on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until the 27th of September.