Green party wants cars out of Antwerp city centre
The Flemish green party Groen wants to free big parts of the Antwerp inner city from cars and give priority to bikes, as was announced by Wouter Van Besien, candidate-mayor for Antwerp at the next local elections (October 2018).
In its mobility plan for the city of Antwerp the green party proposes some radical solutions “to regain public space and let Antwerp live again”. Groen wants to clear the entire inner city (between the river Scheldt and the Leien) and also the district centres and school environments from most cars.
Only local inhabitants and shopkeepers or other local traders could enter with a special license, “trough traffic has nothing to do in the city centre”. At he same time all streets with a 30 kph limit (almost all streets inside the ring road) have to become ‘bike streets’: bikers always have priority and cars are not allowed to overtake.
The parking facilities within the ring road have to be transformed into parking for inner city inhabitants, so that parking space in the streets can be cleared for other purposes. “Visitors leave their car at the city outskirts and enter the city by bike or public transport.”
“We know the importance of visitors and trade for our city”, says Van Besien, “we are not going to endanger this. There will always be cars, but other European cities show that we can stay attractive with less cars.
Traffic to the city centre will be led by a circulation plan, as is already happening in Ghent. The plan has to be the result of talks between inhabitants, traffic analysts, mobility associations and companies.
The plan is to have 20 independent bicycle highways and 4 bicycle ring roads to bring bike-riders from all possible places to the inner city centre. Apart from the existing pedestrian and bicycle tunnel under the river there has to come an extra one and every year 20 crossroads have to be made ‘conflict-free’.
Groen is pointing out that the whole public transport scheme has to be redesigned but that, unfortunately, this is no matter of the city authorities alone.
The new plan goes even a step further than what Ghent has done. “Antwerp is incredibly lagging behind”, concludes Van Biesen. “Nevertheless, traffic and mobility are key themes for the next election, just like safety, security and air quality.”
These fundamentally different traffic politics are cornerstone for the green party and will be very important during possible coalition forming next fall. As a matter of fact the plans are far away from the ones the ruling coalition has in mind, and according to the last polls the current mayor Bart De Wever stands a good chance to be re-elected.Groen weert auto uit Antwerps straatbeeld