Good Move leads to one-fifth less car traffic in the Brussels Pentagon

A fifth less traffic in the Pentagon, more space for pedestrians, and a lot more people choosing to cycle. Those are the provisional results of six months of ‘Good Move’, the new circulation plan to reduce transit traffic in the Brussels city center.

Bart Dhondt (Groen), the Brussels Alderman for Mobility, calls the results encouraging and in line with expectations. Nevertheless, some bottlenecks remain a challenge.

Almost a quarter more cyclists

Traffic was counted on 74 locations in the Pentagon and at 30 intersections on the inner ring road on 21 October 2021 and 8 November 2022, more than three months after the introduction of Good Move. This was done during the morning and evening rush hours. On the inner ring road, 16% less traffic was counted than a year earlier. In the Pentagon itself, the decrease was 19,2%.

On the other hand, the counts also show that more people are taking a bicycle to get around. For instance, during the morning rush hour, there were even 23% more cyclists on average. During the evening rush hour, there was a 13% increase.

Still several bottlenecks

“The modal shift seems to be progressing little by little,” says Bart Dhondt. “We see that visitors and commuters are increasingly traveling by other means and that Brussels continues to attract national and foreign visitors. For example, we welcomed 3,6 million visitors during the last edition of Winter Wonders, and there were more visitors from outside Brussels while experiencing far fewer problems.”

However, several local bottlenecks remain a problem. The best-known example is Dansaert Street, where it is difficult to get out of town during the evening rush hour. “But there we expect the modal shift to continue and will also lead to less traffic there,” says Els Wauters, spokesperson for Dhondt, while the goal is that Dansaert Street should eventually become a bicycle street.

Further bottlenecks often occur on Pacheco and Berlaimont Avenues and the nearby Rue des Sables. Also, in the Anneessens neighborhood, there are often problems in the Rue de la Verdure and the Rue du Vautour.

Criticism silenced?

Still, according to Wauters, the plan, which attracted a lot of criticism while people also demanded to remove it, has become more established. “From feedback from traders and residents, we hear that it was difficult at first but that people have adapted in the meantime. Just like in Ghent, where initially there was also a lot of resistance to the circulation plan,” says Wauters.

An often-heard argument against the circulation plan is that it pushes car traffic to the already congested inner Ring Road, creating a complete Brussels traffic gridlock. However, according to BRUZZ, figures from GPS providers show a different picture.

In January 2023, it took exactly one hour to drive down the entire inner Ring Road during peak rush hour. That’s five minutes faster than before corona and barely slower than in spring 2021.

Most figures quoted in the piece are based on November counts. The next count will take place in April or May.


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