Antwerp experts draw ‘mobility pact’ for next seven years
Forty mobility experts from the Antwerp region have put their heads together to draw up a ‘mobility pact’ for the city of Antwerp for the next seven years. Main features among others are a 75% reduction of traffic victims among cyclists and pedestrians, pushing back the usage of cars in the inner city to 25% and 50% in the metropolitan area.
The blueprint of a series of measures to make Antwerp a livable city in the next seven years is proposed to the citizens and politicians. The latter react rather positive on most of the proposals, although some are estimated ‘going too far’, when too ‘anti-car’.
The group of mobility experts around university professor Dirk Lauwers (UAntwerpen and UGent) and others was formed after a series of deadly bicycle accidents in 2017 in Antwerp on dangerous crossroads. Organizations like Bezorgde Ouders (Caring Parents), Fiestersbond (Bicycle Union), Antwerpenize, Plan A and Voetgangersbeweging (Pedestrian Movement) joined.
Speed limit of 30 kph
To make the city safer the group pleads for a ban on heavy trucks on roads without a separate bicycle path and a general speed limit of 30 kph everywhere, except for some major axes. Every year at least ten crossroads have to be made conflict-free by separating motorized traffic and cyclists and pedestrians.
Car usage has to be limited to 25% in the inner city and 50% in the suburbs by making inhabitants and companies pay for their parking spaces and drawing up circulation plans for every city district to discourage through traffic. It should improve air quality to the level of the World Health Organization (WHO). European standards that are lower are to be met in five years.
Bicycle bridge over Scheldt
Public transport and better accessibility to it are essential in the plan. Traffic jams are to be reduced by 10% each year at least by offering more train connections and easy ways to step over from trains and cars to trams, buses and bicycles.
“The city will grow with 50.000 people in the next seven years”, says Stijn Wens from bicycle organization Antwerpenize. “When they all use the car, it will go wrong”. He dreams about a bicycle bridge over the river Scheldt for instance, or making the Waasland tunnel car-free.
All Antwerp opposition parties (sp.a, Groen, PVDA) are cheering this mobility pact. Majority parties CD&V and Open-VLD are rather positive, with the latter making reservations to make companies pay for parking spaces. N-VA , largest party in Antwerp with mayor Bart De Wever and Alderman for Mobility Koen Kennis is “80% in favour”.
“I see that many of the proposed measures overlap with our vision or what’s already in the pipeline”, Kennis says. “But I’m not going along when the story becomes dogmatic anti-car. I’m in favour of letting the choice for the best means of transport in given circumstances. And often this still is the car.”