The Brussels Minister for mobility, Elke Van den Brandt, is calling for a change in attitudes that must be seen to result in proper investment in better mobility around Brussels.
To mark mobility week, she published an open letter on Friday to Brussels commuters, cyclists and pedestrians.
“There is a climate emergency. And we can’t afford the luxury of wasting five years,” she emphasised in an extract from the letter published in DH and La Libre. She pointed out that air pollution causes 15,000 deaths every year in Belgium and that bottlenecks in Brussels cost 8 billion euro a year.
“I firmly believe that traffic jams are also something really important for the Walloon government,” she said, referring to the refusal of the Wallonian majority to introduce a mileage toll. “We must determine what we have in common and find solutions together. Perhaps it won’t be easy, but at least we’ll be talking. I am optimistic.”
Her aims are clear: develop spaces in populated areas where children can play and neighbours meet each other. She reckons on expanding public transport every year, providing safe cycle paths and reducing the speed of traffic.
Investment will be needed to achieve this, she continued. “These are big projects, so the various tiers of government are going to have to work together. Nobody wins in a situation in which the different governments are stymieing each other.”
This represents “a considerable change of direction for our city. But in a few years’ time, we shall look back and wonder why we didn’t strive much earlier for a healthy, safe and mobile Brussels,” the minister concluded.