The Brussels-Capital Region held its much-celebrated annual Car Free Sunday on Sunday 18 September this year, making the city the largest car-free zone in Europe. Between 09:30 and 19:00, streets throughout the entire region were empty of cars, making way for other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. For Brussels residents and visitors alike, it was an ideal time to explore the city without the noise and air pollution of private combustion vehicles.
According to a recent survey, most Brussels residents would be in favour of increasing the number of car-free days in the region, which the government is currently exploring, the cabinet of Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt confirmed. Her spokesperson stated: "We have discussed this with the mayors of the 19 municipalities and are now collecting all the information regarding the economic impact and how much an increase in car-free days will cost. Our objective is definitely to organise more."
Car Free Sunday is organised in tandem with Brussels Mobility Week, which runs from 16 to 22 September. This year's theme is to "Make Brussels a city for children" - a theme which coordinates with the European Year of Youth. A recent study showed that, between the ages of 12 and 16, the risk of having an accident on the way to school increases each year a pupil gets older.
"Prioritising the needs of children when rethinking the public space means rethinking mobility to create a more inclusive city," Brussels Mobility wrote in a statement. Indeed, this year Europe is placing the younger generation at the heart of urban mobility planning, with Urban Mobility Days - the European Commission’s biennial mobility event - hearing from representative of the younger generation on each panel. Back in Brussels, car free Sunday highlighted initiatives that improve children's mobility and their integration in public spaces.
Original article published by Brussels Times on 6 September 2022.
Photo Credit: © Catarina Belova - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.