Brussels wants to become an attractive, safe and healthy city, thanks to a network of low-traffic neighbourhoods. By providing efficient public transport and boosting active modes of mobility, these neighbourhoods will reduce traffic congestion and make way for more social interaction.
The Good Move plan defines low-traffic neighbourhoods as areas in which measures are implemented to reduce motorised traffic and deter through-traffic. In other words, fewer cars and lorries travel through the area, making public spaces more welcoming and safer for residents, users and visitors to the neighbourhood.
The many benefits of this new vision of city living are clear, thanks to low-traffic neighbourhoods which have already been implemented in Brussels and elsewhere.
Benefit # 1 = a better quality of life in a friendly community
A low-traffic neighbourhood provides its residents, users and visitors with safe public spaces where problems caused by motorised vehicle traffic are significantly reduced. Thanks to a traffic plan which diverts through-traffic to main roads, as well as streets and squares with better infrastructure and more planting, the neighbourhood can become a meeting place again for its residents. It’s an environment for children to play and live, a space designed for social interaction and relaxation, and a friendly setting for local businesses.
Benefit #2 = less traffic and better road safety
With less motor traffic traveling through the neighbourhood, road safety will improve immediately and adults and children alike will feel more at ease. The traffic plan, road developments, pavements and other infrastructure will ensure that fewer cars cross paths or overtake each other, while safeguarding pedestrians and cyclists who benefit from better visibility and more space. Of course, all streets in the neighbourhood are residential roads which, by definition, have a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h. By strengthening the availability of public transport and encouraging multimodal transport, as well as providing more enjoyable and safer conditions for walking and cycling, everyone will be able to leave their car at home and choose an alternative mode of transport.
Benefit #3 = cleaner air
We know that pollution caused by motorised traffic is one of the main causes for poor air quality in cities. Emissions of polluting gases and fine particles from road transport multiply the risk of respiratory problems and illnesses (such as asthma), irritation of the eyes and nasal passages, cardiovascular illnesses, cardiac illnesses and lung cancer. In a low-traffic neighbourhood, motorised traffic is reduced by 35%. Improving the health of residents in these neighbourhoods, as well as those who go there for school or work, is both an immediate and long-term benefit of a healthier environment.
Benefit #4 = less noise for better sleep
In cities, one enemy is far from silent. That enemy is noise! Human activities in cities naturally create a certain level of noise. Beyond certain decibel levels, those noises can become loud or very loud, thus affecting concentration or sleep quality for everyone living there. But noise can also be harmful to our physical and mental health. Reducing noise in cities is the objective of the quiet.brussels plan. Reducing traffic in neighbourhoods is a key step toward achieving that goal, given that road traffic is the main source of noise in cities. By deviating through-traffic to main roads outside of low-traffic neighbourhoods, we can reduce the quantity and speed of motorised vehicles, thus reducing both daytime and night-time noise.
Benefit #5 = a greener neighbourhood and a more sustainable city
By 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in an urban environment. As a result, cities are on the front line of the fight against climate change. Under the framework of the Energie-Climat plan, Brussels is committed to doing its part. In addition to issues related to buildings, heating and industries, the Region wants to reduce its reliance on mobility that is not energy efficient and emits greenhouse gases. In order to achieve this goal, we must first implement the Good Move regional mobility plan, which includes low-traffic neighbourhoods as one of its main priorities, in addition to the improvement of public transport. We can turn any space freed from traffic into green space, thus helping protect residents from heatwaves and reducing CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. Reduced motorised traffic in our neighbourhoods will have a positive impact on current and future generations.