Slow roads can come in different shapes and forms , Source: City of Stekene

Belgian town promotes slow roads for non-drivers

Belgian town promotes slow roads for non-drivers

The city already has around 165 kilometres of footpaths, abandoned railroads and towpaths, but it’s not enough

This week, the Belgian town of Stekene announced their progress in adapting and strengthening local slow roads – roads that are mainly used by pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and horse riders. The municipality has recorded 165 kilometres of these informal roads.

At the same time, according to local authorities, they fulfil a very important role, connecting smaller settlements and areas of interest in the region. They are the missing links that normal, car-centric roads cannot fill.

Road alternatives that are still very important for travel

According to the municipality, slow roads are a vital part of the local transport network, as they provide connections to nearby residential areas to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, far away from car traffic. Additionally, they offer a unique way for people to connect with nature.

Forest paths, dirt roads, towpaths, old railway beds, as well as alleys are all roads used by soft road users like pedestrians, cyclists, joggers or horse riders.

The city has already strengthened and marked around 75% of these connections. However, local authorities claim that there are a number of missing links in the extensive network of around 160 kilometres.

Kris Van Duyse, Stekene’s Green Alderman, was quoted by the VRT explaining that while mapping these connections, authorities discovered that there are many slow roads going east to west, but very few going north to south. Additionally, authorities have identified 14 bottlenecks.

This has prompted Stekene to try and expand the system, fixing the bottlenecks and offering even more connections to residents.

Furthermore, this is one of the first municipalities in Flanders to work on a policy framework for its slow network. Such a policy framework is a long-term vision that should improve and refine the network of connections for cyclists and pedestrians.



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