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The new town centre offers a lot of exciting opportunities for pedestrians, Source: City of Bree

Belgian town transforms city centre into pedestrian/vehicle mixed zone

Belgian town transforms city centre into pedestrian/vehicle mixed zone

The mayor said that there are no sidewalks in the redeveloped area, and cars and pedestrians will have to coexist

Tomorrow, the centre of the Belgian town of Bree is ready to open following a year and a half of renovations. There are still a few minor finishing touches the municipality needs to do before works are 100% finished – things like planting trees and putting flower boxes.

The biggest change to the town centre is that it is now classified as a residential area, which means restricted motor vehicle rights and increased pedestrian rights.

Mixed-use streets for a friendlier town

Starting tomorrow the city centre of Bree will be classified as a residential area. This means that cars will not be allowed to go above a 20 kilometre per hour speed limit. Pedestrians, on the other hand, are allowed to use the full width of the public road.

Drivers should not endanger or hinder pedestrians and if necessary, they must stop. Pedestrians, in their right, must not obstruct traffic unnecessarily. Furthermore, parking is generally prohibited apart from zones designated for that purpose. This is because a car parked on these narrow streets will hinder cyclists and create dangerous situations for pedestrians.

The mayor of the town, Liesbeth Vander Auwera, in an interview for the Flemish newswire VRT, explained that the mixed-use design of the city centre was a very conscious choice. It was aimed at making the city centre a vibrant people-friendly space, that is comfortable and inviting both to residents and visitors.

She also said that now there were no sidewalks in the whole area since the road is meant both for cars and pedestrians.

Another consequence of the decision to limit car rights will be cleaner air and less noise pollution for the downtown area. Furthermore, the move would have a discouraging effect on drivers and as a consequence, most passing through the centre would opt for an easier and quicker route.

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