Bruges bans traffic from main streets on weekends

Summary

An urban development plan that includes more pedestrian areas and a renovation of ’t Zand sees Bruges' main thoroughfares closed to traffic on Saturdays and some Sundays

Pedestrian plan

Bruges city council has approved a proposal to close the main streets in the city centre to traffic on Saturdays and on each first Sunday of the month. The plan takes force on 1 February. The main shopping streets have been bus-free since 1 January, after routes were amended in agreement with De Lijn.

The first weekend affected is 6 and 7 February, which will see the city centre's main streets – Steenstraat (pictured), Geldmuntstraat, Noordzandstraat and Zuidzandstraat – closed to motorised traffic from 10.00 to 18.00. The ban also applies to the familiar horse-drawn carriages carrying tourists.

The streets affected lead directly to the city's historic centre. Tourists lodging in the centre can obtain a permit to drive to and from their hotels. Permits are also available for persons of limited mobility, and residents can obtain a temporary permit to use the streets when necessary. “With these measures we hope to make the new pedestrian zone in the city centre a safe and peaceful place for everyone,” said mobility alderwoman Annick Lambrecht.

The car-free weekends are part of a larger pedestrian plan in the city, which will also see a complete reconstruction of the major square ’t Zand, located next to the Concertgebouw. A mosaic will be created on the square, which will be completely open, with the central fountain being moved to another location. Once the Zand project is complete, cars will no longer be able to drive around the square.

Photo: Marc Ryckaert/Wikimedia

Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year