The Brussels MR has proposed a bill to ban bicycles and e-scooters in busy pedestrian zones in the capital. Currently, the maximum speed allowed there is officially 8 km/hour. Cyclists and e-scooter users who ride too fast through the pedestrian zones risk a fine of 174 euros.
The MR justifies the ban by “the explosion in road safety in recent years and the desire for the safety and comfort of Passengers with Restricted Mobility (PRM), who are increasingly finding it difficult to walk around in the pedestrian area of the city center or the Chaussée d’Ixelles.
Dangerous for PRMs and senior citizens
According to Anne-Charlotte d’Ursel, the president of the Brussels Parliament’s Mobility Committee, and David Weytsman, the leader of the MR group in the City of Brussels, also the two proposers of the bill, the Good Move mobility plan introduced by the current PS-Ecolo/Groen-DEFI coalition promotes coexistence for a series of roads. But at the same time, it has created “real chaos in shared areas, endangering the safety of many individuals”.
Concrete figures are unavailable, but according to MR, such zones are dangerous even for PRMs and senior citizens whose complaints multiply. In addition, cargo bike users encounter significant obstacles when they get stuck between pedestrians.
The MR’s proposal, therefore, provides for a formal ban on using bicycles and e-scooters in pedestrian high-traffic areas that do not have a dedicated lane to be separated from pedestrians.
EU not immediately opposed to mixed zones
The measure is inspired by countries where bicycle use is historically higher, such as the Netherlands or Germany, which prohibit coexistence between pedestrians and cyclists in these mixed-use zones.
For example, other countries, such as Austria and Spain, experimented with such mixed zones. And in Austria’s Bregenz, feedback has previously been positive.
In a directive on mobility and transport, the EU writes the following about it: “Mixed-use helps to improve accessibility for cyclists by allowing them to travel through areas that may previously have been pedestrianized. They will also help enhance cyclists’ safety due to the traffic calming measures and low-speed enforcement due to the mixing of transport modes.”
Less shared e-scooters soon
In any case, Brussels is drastically changing the course regarding shared vehicles. Starting next year, the Brussels government wants to allow a maximum of 8 000 shared e-scooters on the capital’s streets, compared to 21 000 at present. However, mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) also made clear in Parliament that a strict ban at a later stage is not ruled out.
Fast-moving cyclists and e-scooter users are indeed one of the biggest annoyances for pedestrians in these mixed zones in Brussels. But the problem is that today there are not so many alternatives for getting safe around the Pentagon quickly by bike or e-scooter unless you venture through heavy traffic or take the new bike lanes along the ring road.
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