The entire inner city area of Brussels to set to become a lot more cyclist and pedestrian-friendly in a bid to give people more space because of the coronavirus.
To facilitate COVID-19 social distancing, the Belgian capital will from early May give priority to those moving on foot or by bike within the Pentagon zone — the area encircled by the inner ring road — and set 20 kilometer per hour speed limits for vehicles.
The Belgian government is on Friday expected to outline plans to start easing the current lockdown, with Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès promising the country will take a “step by step” approach to lifting restrictions.
The mobility plan, previewed Monday in Le Soir, was developed by Brussels Mayor Philippe Close and the city’s mobility minister, Bart Dhondt, whose Socialist and Green parties are part of the city’s governing coalition.
A spokesperson for Close told POLITICO that the city was seeking to “take advantage of social distancing measures” and ultimately “give more space to the people, and especially the cycling and walking community.”
They said the new measures will go into effect by early May, “once signage is installed” and would be maintained “until further notice.”
“The idea is not to kick cars out, but to share our public space in a better way,” the spokesperson said.
The plans will also see the popular Bois de la Cambre park remain closed to traffic.
Brussels is just one of several European cities changing their mobility rules as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hard-hit Milan recently announced that 35 kilometers of its streets will be turned into cycling and walking zones this summer, with car access severely limited in order to allow for greater social distance.
In Berlin, city authorities are taking road space from drivers to make wider bike lines that ensure safe movement while the pandemic lasts.