One year Good Move in Brussels: 27% fewer cars, 36% more cyclists

27% fewer cars in the Brussels Pentagon and also 36% more cyclists: these are the striking figures the City of Brussels can present after exactly one year of Good Move, the Regional Mobility and Circulation Plan for the Brussels Capital Region. “Brussels is thus becoming an even nicer place to be,” says a satisfied Bart Dhondt (Ecolo-Groen), Alderman for Mobility for the City of Brussels.

On 16 August 2022, a new circulation plan, the local implementation of Good Move, was introduced in the Pentagon, Brussels’ city center. It aims to reduce car traffic in certain zones and give pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport more space.

To measure the plan’s impact, the Brussels city council hired an external agency, which organized three counts of cars and cyclists at 74 locations along the Pentagon and the Little Ring Road: on 21 October 2021, 8 November 2022, and 23 June 2023.

18 212 fewer cars in the Pentagon

At the 36 counting points on the Little Ring Road, car traffic decreased by as much as 20% in one year. At the 44 counting points in Brussels-Center and the Pentagon, car traffic has fallen by 30%.

Specifically, 18 212 fewer cars were counted within the Brussels Pentagon than before the introduction of Good Move in Brussels city. At the same time, journey times on the Little Ring Road remained virtually unchanged compared to before the introduction, says Dhondt.

Earlier, MIVB/STIB also hinted that developments under Good Move are positively impacting the travel time of several tram and bus lines.

Almost 30 000 cyclists

The drop in the number of cars is accompanied by an equally spectacular increase in the number of Brussels cyclists: an average increase of 36% during the two peak hours of the day at all counting points – from 21 155 in 2021 to 24 728 in 2022 to 28 685 this year.

It is also striking that, of the 40 or so measurement sites in the Pentagon, only three counted more vehicles in June than before the introduction of Good Move, such as in the neighborhood of Priemstraat (+97%).

Near the approach roads, there are also a few spots where the circulation plan is not bringing fewer but more cars for now. But adjusting those bottlenecks is on the way, Dhondt argues, “because we want to see fewer vehicles counted everywhere in the long run”.

Still opposition, though smoldering away

However, the figures relating to Good Move are not yet available everywhere. Some municipalities have yet to introduce the circulation plan, Jette, Schaerbeek, and Anderlecht reversed it, while others still must wait for the evaluation.

The plan also continues to generate opposition across Brussels, although it seems limited. At a demonstration in June by the various local committees from different Brussels municipalities against Good Move, some 200 people showed up.

Touring is not convinced

Breakdown service and insurer Touring warns that “it is too early and too easy to send hurray messages into the world”. According to Touring, an opponent of Good Move from the beginning, car users do not experience any mobility improvement, and the introduction has not brought any gains in travel times on the Little Ring Road where major works are still being carried out in several places.

Touring also points out that the circulation plan “also has yet to prove itself regarding road safety”. In addition, Touring finds it “all too easy” to attribute the increase in the number of Brussels cyclists to Good Move. “This trend is also observed elsewhere”.

To be clear: the improved cycling infrastructure and the introduction of Zone 30 have certainly also played a role in this. Or as mobility expert Cathy Macharis (VUB) puts it on “You have to look at the broad package of mobility measures that impact those trends.”

Finally, Touring calls for remaining attentive to the complaints of the city’s merchants and entrepreneurs. “Movements for professional reasons have become more complex and less efficient due to the new circulation plan.”

New pitfalls

Dhondt admits that the adjustment due to the introduction of Good Move was not evident for everyone at first, but now he looks back with great satisfaction. “Thanks to the Good Move traffic plan and changes in travel habits, public space is freed up in several places in the city center,” Dhondt says.

“Many places are becoming quieter, safer, and more pleasant. As a result, the city can already redesign public space with more greenery and more comfort for walkers and cyclists.

Brussels will thus become an even nicer place to be”, he concludes, although the city will have to make sure that those places also remain liveable for the real inhabitants of Brussels. Some squares, like Place Saint-Catherine, are now so taken up by often ugly terraces that, according to action group Free 54, the city center has become an “amusement park for tourists”.


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