Many EU cities used the occasion of European Mobility Week to try out car-free Sundays, Source: Dana Marin / Unsplash

Car-Free Sunday in Brussels leads to 90% drop in automobile-related pollution

Car-Free Sunday in Brussels leads to 90% drop in automobile-related pollution

During European Mobility Week, many EU cities instituted car-free Sundays, becoming more accessible for public transport and cycling

Last Sunday, Brussels instituted a no-cars Sunday to mark the European Mobility Week, between 16 and 22 September. Between 9:30 AM and 7:00 PM cars were prohibited from driving in a lot of the city, giving way to public transport and bikes instead.

During that time, Bruxelles Environement, the city’s environment agency noted a 90% reduction in nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are both toxic substances emitted by internal combustion engines.

Additionally, the city also saw a significant reduction in noise levels, making for a calm and quiet Sunday. This also highlights a point urban planners have been making in recent years, that cities are not noisy, cars are noisy.

Calm and quiet day on the streets of Brussels

According to a report from Bruxelles Environment on 19 September, the busiest axes for travel in the city were affected the most by the drop in emissions. At the Ars-Loi station, for example, the concentration of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped by 80% compared to regular weekends.

Compared to weekdays, the drop is even steeper, with about 90% for nitrogen oxide and 86% for nitrogen dioxide.

Furthermore, background noise levels also dropped around the Belgian capital. The results were compared at sound measuring stations near roads and highways. For example, near the E411 in Auderghem and near the E40 in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, sound measuring stations registered a 90% drop in noise levels.

For less noisy streets like Avenue Houba de Strooper and Chaussée de Wavre in Auderghem, the drop was less pronounced, though still significant – at 68%.

Authorities point out that yearly emissions have been going down since 2019, by about 10% per year. However, there is still a long way to go, since according to the European Environment Agency, in 2018, Belgium registered around 8,900 deaths caused by air pollution.



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