You don’t have to live in Brussels for road safety, and certainly not since the rise of electric shared mobility. As many as 64% of Brussels residents blame the rising number of road accidents on this trend.
More than half (54%) of the capital’s residents also think shared e-mobility, such as rental e-scooters, should be abolished in Brussels. This is according to a survey conducted by Dutch data agency Cyclomedia.
Better separation of roads and cycle lanes
Cyclomedia, a specialist in digital mapping of countries where it sells the data to companies and governments, annually releases the Urban Road Safety Index, a survey of road safety in 25 European countries. For this year’s survey, it contacted 7 515 respondents from 25 metropolitan cities, or an average of 300 inhabitants per city.
Brussels – the city has a population of about 194 000 – does not come out of the survey rosy. For instance, six in ten (60%) Brussels residents advise against living there regarding road safety.
According to 47% of respondents, the city is also not taking sufficient measures to improve road safety in the short and long term. For example, more than half (55%) of Brussels residents feel unsafe on cycle lanes, and 54% call for better separation of roads and cycle lanes.
Improve safety for cyclists
But there are still other obstacles because it is not only the rise in shared e-mobility that contributes to feeling unsafe. 60% also think that road quality contributes to dangerous traffic situations. Almost half (46%) regularly make detours to avoid dangerous traffic situations. And four in ten (41) feel unsafe in traffic due to the lack of streetlights.
According to respondents, improving the road infrastructure design is especially important. Besides better traffic separation, 42% demand better cycle lanes and 33% better road markings (signaling and dividing lines).
Moreover, one in five (21%) do not believe in a total ban on alcohol to improve road safety, even though alcohol is involved in 50% of fatal accidents. And 34% would use bicycles less often if helmets were compulsory from 18 years of age.
In 2022, there were 4 172 road accidents in Brussels. That is an increase of about 6% compared to 2019. The number of fatalities has also risen. In 2019, there were 20; in 2022, the number rose to 24.
In Brussels, which is currently pulling out all the stops to catch up with its historical backlog of cycling infrastructure, bicycle use increased by 12,7% over the past three years. A new major study on travel in Brussels also shows that 9% of journeys are made by bike.
In the middle of the European bunch
Then again, compared to other European metropolises, Brussels is not doing too badly. Entirely predictably, the Scandinavian cities each time scored well in terms of feeling safe in traffic, with leading positions for Oslo (87%), Helsinki (85%), Copenhagen (81%), and Stockholm (77%). But Tallinn (87%), Warsaw (86%), Vienna (77%) and Madrid (75%) also score well.
In contrast, residents of Istanbul (27%), Rome (42%), Milan (45%), Prague (56%), and Amsterdam (59%) feel the least safe on the road. However, Antwerp does just a little less well than Brussels (69%), with 66% feeling safe. Namur, the other Belgian town on the list, has 72% of respondents who feel secure in traffic.
In 2021, according to EU figures, 22 000 people were killed in traffic in the EU. The aim is for zero fatalities on roadways by 2050. According to research by the European Commission, the mortality rate in EU countries has dropped by 17%, from 54 to 46 deaths per million inhabitants over the past decade.