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Is Gent's city centre set to become car-free? (Belgium)

By News Editor / Updated: 11 May 2017

The local government in Gent is looking to introduce a new mobility plan that would turn the city centre into a car-free zone.

As part of the initiative, the city would be divided into six new districts, including the inner-city. Direct journeys between these new areas would be off-limits for lorry drivers, who would instead be required to use a ring road situated on the outskirts of the city. Money would also be invested in cycle paths and local transport.

A key architect of the plan is Gent's Deputy Mayor and Mobility Minister, Filip Watteeuw. He sees it as having a clear basis: "we have data indicating that 40 per cent of rush hour traffic in Gent need not be there...we want to take these vehicles out of the city and encourage residents to use other forms of transport".

For some, however, the ideas are too radical. Peter Dedecker, a politician involved in the city government, believes that the plan would only "shift congestion from the city centre to the ring road". Instead, he proposes measures such as better conditions and access for taxi drivers.  A local referendum on the plan should take place by September. 

The car's position as the dominant mode of transport in Gent was first challenged in 1997 with the introduction of pedestrian zones in the old town. The new plan would see that change even further. 

For more information, visit deutschlandfunk.de (in German).

Image copyright: Sur le pont vers la cathédrale et le beffroi (image on Flickr) Stephane Mignon under CC BY 2.0

Country: 
Belgium
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