As Mobility Week kicks off with Car-Free Sunday, the Flemish government’s traffic centre has revealed record numbers of traffic jams in the region (which includes the Brussels Ring) last year. The increase is almost all attributable to Antwerp, which overtakes Brussels as the most traffic-jammed city.
“The Antwerp economy is much more focussed on industry, the port and logistic activities,” traffic expert Hajo Beeckman told the VRT. “That’s the major difference with Brussels, which has more of a services economy. Here in Antwerp a large proportion of the companies is dependent on the roads.”
Another reason for the growing congestion is traffic that has nothing to do with the city, but is only passing through n its way to the Netherlands, Germany and France. No other city in Belgium sees as much through traffic as Antwerp.
Finally the ring is relatively short – only 15km – in relation to the amount of traffic it has to carry. Result: even minor accidents can cause serious tailbacks.
Meanwhile Ghent has been named as Belgium’s most liveable city, according to a study carried out for Greenpeace by Wuppertal Institute in Germany. The study took account of issues such as sustainable transport, road safety, air quality and quality of life in general in five cities. Ghent led the field, followed closely by Brussels and Antwerp, with Charleroi and Liege far behind.
One indicator is the number of journeys made by car or motor cycle. In Charleroi private motor vehicles account for 84% of journeys, with Liege on 76%. In Ghent, by contrast, the figure is only 41.2%
But Greenpeace sees no reason for the leaders to be satisfied. “In comparison with cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, there’s plenty of room for improvement,” said the organisation’s Joeri Thijs. “The priority for Brussels is to work on safe infrastructure for cyclists. Ghent and Antwerp have to invest more in road safety and improved pubic transport.”