The Brussels low emission zone is stricter for people with disabilities than its Flemish counterparts are, as it does not grant exemptions as easily.
Patrick Lantin, a 63-year-old man from the city of Genk in the Limburg province, has been living with a physical disability since a failed open heart surgery in 2011. He drives a 2004 Fiat Idea, which falls under the Euro 3 emission standard, meaning it would normally no longer be allowed in Brussels from 1 January 2020 due to the tightening of the low emission zone standards.
He also uses his car to transport his wheelchair, which is why he was granted an exemption to enter the Flemish LEZs in Ghent and Antwerp. However, that exemption is not valid for Brussels low emission zone.
“There’s a difference between Brussels and Flanders. In Brussels, people only get an exemption if they have had their vehicle modified because of their disability, like for example the steering wheel, or if they have had it modified so that they can take a wheelchair with them,” said Sarah Hollander of Brussels Environment, reports Bruzz. “The logic is that we spare people who have made an investment in their car,” she added.
In Flanders, there is another category, resulting in exemptions for people who can show that they receive an increased health care allowance and have a special parking card for people with disabilities.
“In Brussels, we only opted for the criterion of investment in the vehicle. We have been a little stricter than Flanders,” said Hollander. “People assume that the same exemption also exists in Brussels. But as far as I know, there’s nothing to change it,” she added.
However, Lantin sees no possibility to visit friends and family in Brussels. “I don’t need an adaptation to my car, but I do need a car in which I can put a wheelchair. However, as my income has gone done due to my disability, I can’t buy a brand new car,” he said.