Which solution to high pollution levels in Brussels?
In the last two days, Brussels has recorded very high levels of pollution. The car is pointed out as the culprit but what are the solutions to reduce its use? Mobility expert at IEB, Oliver Fourneau, suggests increasing the number of trams and tramlines. For its part, Touring spokesperson, Danny Smagghe, berates the government for its empty anti-car policy.
During the last two days, Brussels and Belgium have experienced higher-than-usual levels of pollution. As is often the case, traffic is pointed out as the major culprit for this polluted air. “The car is partly responsible”, declares Mobility expert for Inter-Environment Brussels (IEB), Olivier Fourneau. “A major part of pollution comes from central heating systems and badly insulated buildings”, adds Touring spokesperson, Danny Smagghe.
Car ban and LEZ
Identified as a pollutant, the car is being slowly pushed away from city centres. In Belgium, Antwerp introduced its Low Emission Zone back in 2017 and Brussels followed one year later. Both experts think those zones are a good solution, but the government isn’t fully committing to the idea.
“The city of Brussels still favours the car. For example, the Stib/Mivb doesn’t go up to St-Genesius-Rhode. It’s, therefore, easier to use the car”, explains Mr Fourneau. “In Antwerp, pollution has drastically dropped. Time has to be given for people to change their habits. But, current alternatives won’t cut it. There are not enough park-and-ride facilities, and the metro needs to be extended”, adds the Touring spokesperson.
Alternate traffic as a solution?
“Alternating the traffic flow is one of the solutions, but it’s not structural. Just as the LEZ, it’s based on the wrong criteria. It doesn’t take into account the size or weight of the vehicle but its registration year. In the case of pollution peaks, it won’t resolve anything”, declares the IEB mobility expert.
Danny Smagghe is even more sceptical about the idea. “I don’t know of any study that gives the results for foreign countries that implemented alternating traffic”, he declares, adding that some citizens still need their cars. “We actually feel guilty driving a car today. Let’s not forget that the government gets 20 billion euro every year from motorists. That amount should be reinvested in better alternatives”, expresses the spokesperson.
Metro vs. tram
The Brussels citizen association IEB has been actively pushing against the metro extension in Brussels. “I think it costs too much. Especially since studies show that only 0,6% of motorists will trade their cars for the metro”, declares Olivier Fourneau.
The association’s mobility expert add that the last metro line cost 1,8 billion euro while the last tram line only cost 100 million euro. “It’s the same story for park-and-ride facilities. For them to be effective, they need to be located before the congestion zone”, he lashed out.