Iweps: ‘Walloons are addicted to their cars’
A mobility survey conducted in Wallonia shows that Walloons are more and more attached to their cars. 41% of households have more than one car, 10% even three or more. The study, published by the Walloon institute for statistics (Iweps), shows “some remarkable contradictions between what the Walloons want and how they behave.”
The new Walloon government wants to reduce car usage by one third in the next five years by investing heavily in bicycle infrastructure and making public transport more attractive. By making it free for youngsters under 25 and older people above 65, for instance. Today 63% of Walloons never take the bus. The Iweps study learns a paradigm shift with Walloons won’t be that easy.
Three cars or more
In 2001, one in four households didn’t have a car. In 2017, only 16% of families could do without one. On the other hand, during that same period, the number of households with more than one vehicle went up from 21 to 41%. And today, the situation is even worse: 10% of the French-speaking families have three cars or more.
These findings are opposed to a green planet and fluent traffic. That is precisely why the Walloon region is calling to ‘move differently’ and to try other means of transport, especially during the Week of Mobility with clean air as the central theme.
Never on foot
The study also revealed some other stunning facts. It’s hard to believe, but 89% of Walloons don’t know what a ‘shared bicycle’ is, 39% don’t have a bicycle, and 14% say never to walk on foot. 57% of Walloons never take a train, and 12% of the ones who sometimes ride a bicycle don’t feel safe in traffic, even in spite of improved infrastructure.
During a conference in May, Iweps underlined the remarkable contradictions between what the Walloons want and how they behave. “They want schools, pharmacies, cash dispensers, and even a bus stop next to their homes, but when it comes to choosing a place to live, they opt for the countryside,” details Julien Juprelle, one of the researchers of Iweps. “They’re so stuck to their car as if it were the only means of transport.”
And there is another surprising contradiction. Even of those who live close to a station or a bus stop (on a 15-minute walk), only a small part (20%) ever uses the bus or the train. The Mobwal study also learned 63% never even takes a bus. 95% says ticket prices don’t matter to them; it’s availability and comfort that do. So making public transport free for young and old won’t do the trick.
According to Iweps, it’s a priority to make public transport more attractive in cities and villages alike. Also, employers should be well aware of the location they choose because it will create traffic.