Brussels Mobility uses converted wheelchair to inspect sidewalks
Walking is the number one means of transport in Brussels, with one-third of all journeys made on foot. The comfort of pedestrians is, therefore, at the center of priorities for Brussels Mobility, especially since the introduction of the pedestrian zone in the city center since June 2015.
To evaluate the quality of new pedestrian facilities in the context of the new regional mobility plan, Good Move, Brussels Mobility, and the Belgian Road Academy (OCW, Opzoekingscentrum voor de Wegenbouw) use a specially converted wheelchair that serves as a measuring chair.
Number of standards
The Good Move plan lays down several standards for the quality of use of the pedestrian facilities. The materials must offer a minimum level of comfort, and a score of 8 out of 10 on the structures PLUS and COMFORT networks in Good Move, and of 6 out of 10 on all other roads.
Also, Brussels Mobility and the OCW will finalize a vademecum on asphalting or pavements for pedestrian facilities in 2019.
“This is a kind of menu from which different actors such as road managers, engineering firms, or architects can choose high-quality pavements for mobile and less mobile users,” says Benoit Dupriez of the Brussels Mobility Planning Department.
The ‘measuring chair’ will objectively measure the quality of use of existing road surfacing. Three criteria are essential: the flatness of the road surface for comfort, the roughness that helps against slipping, and the slope of the pavements. Once the surfacing has been applied, it is possible to test and intervene even while work is in progress.
All measurement results are recorded in a general database. This makes it possible to determine in the long term, which materials and techniques offer the best results.
“In Brussels, we want to encourage walking by making it more pleasant and more direct,” says Elke Van den Brandt (Groen), Brussels Minister for Mobility and Public Works, in the newspaper La Capitale.
“The positive impact of walking goes far beyond mobility. By limiting sedentary lifestyles, it improves health; it increases social control and, therefore, the safety and user-friendliness of the streets, and finally, without noise and pollution, it has a very positive impact on air quality.”
“This measuring chair will help us to validate the quality of comfort and grip of pedestrian facilities, and enable us to improve pedestrian comfort and boost the modal share of walking in the Brussels Regio.”
According to Olivier Van Damme of the Belgian Road Academy, it is an innovative tool that is beginning to be used in other parts of Belgium and is also attracting interest beyond our borders, including France and Switzerland.