Wallonia wants to reduce car use by a third
The new Walloon government PS-MR-Ecolo will do everything possible to dissuade people from using the car. For the so-called ‘rainbow coalition’, the issue is above all an environmental one.
To succeed in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, Wallonia must make a modal shift, and it is the private car that is targeted. To achieve this, the future government will invest two billion euros in a mobility infrastructure plan.
The objective of developing an alternative to the private car use to reduce its modal share by a third by 2030 does not come out the blue. It is in line with the FAST 2030 vision drafted by the outgoing Minister, Carlo Di Antonio (cdH).
The plan is ambitious because by 2030, “the modal share of walking will be increased by at least 3 to 5%, that of cycling by 1 to 5%, that of public transport (train and bus) by 13 to 25%, and the scale of car-sharing will be significantly increased.”
Curb urban sprawl
In terms of spatial planning, the government will promote the establishment of public facilities (crèches, schools, sports facilities, public services, etc.), housing and shops “in or near existing residential centers, both rural and urban.” As such, the Regional Policy Statement (RPD) intends to curb urban sprawl and put a complete end to it by 2050.
The development of soft mobility will, therefore, be promoted in order of preference: walking, bicycles, soft micro-mobility, public transport, private and public, and then individual transport and e-steps, as long as they are ‘effectively’ supervised.
Partly free public transport
In terms of public transport, particular emphasis is placed on the development of reserved lanes for buses and carpool parking. Although public transport company TEC managers had heavily criticized the proposal, the new government also announced that it would implement free public transport for youth under 25 and over 65.
Five times more cyclists
Bike users will be particularly pampered. The rainbow coalition promises to spend 20 euros per inhabitant per year on bicycle development or 70 million per year. Among the projects announced, Wallonia will have an express network of bike highways by 2022, or a catch-up movement compared to Flanders, where there has already been a commitment to such a network for some time now.
A Wallonia cycling plan 2020 will thus be adopted by mid-2021 to “double the use of bicycles by 2024 and multiply it by five by 2030.”
No new roads
On the other hand, Wallonia is putting the brakes on the development of new roads. Apart from the connection to the existing network of essential infrastructures, such as stations or hospitals, Wallonia freezes new road projects, such as the Trident in the Charleroi region or the Liège highway bypass.
At the tax level, although the RPD does not mention the introduction of road-pricing, it does not exclude it either. Everything suggests that the Walloon government will sooner or later have to discuss the subject with its Brussels counterparts.