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Auderghem cyclists up in arms over cycle lane closure

09:46 24/11/2023

Do not use the designated cycle lane in the middle of the Boulevard du Souverain for funfairs or other special events.

That is the message of the Auderghem branch of the Research and Action Group for Daily Cyclists (Gracq), which is angry that yet again the commune’s popular fair – in full swing until Sunday 3 December – is taking place on the cycle path used by some 1,500 cyclists every day.

Gracq, which campaigns for the rights of cyclists in Wallonia and Brussels (Fietsersbond is the Flanders equivalent) says that the diversion is dangerous as it causes cars to drive down streets in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, cyclists need to battle with the very busy four-lane Boulevard du Souverain instead of the safe cycle path.

The association is therefore proposing that every time the commune hosts an event on the central space of the Boulevard, it takes away a traffic lane for cars and dedicates it for cyclists.

Auderghem commune has not ruled out this idea, but before making a decision it wants to wait for a study it commissioned to show its impact on traffic.

“A study was promised to us, but it still has not been received,” said Auderghem’s alderman for mobility, Matthieu Pillois.

“That being said, if we close a traffic lane where we have more than 1,000 cars during rush hour, we wonder where the cars will go once they have slowed down because of the narrower lanes.

"If this will just move them into the residential area just behind Boulevard du Souverain – which is marked ‘only for local traffic’, is this really the solution?”

In the interim, a 30 km/h speed limit has been placed on the Boulevard du Souverain for the duration of the fair. The measure aims to protect cyclists now using the same part of the road as cars and other motorized vehicles.

But Auderghem residents are not satisfied. “Is it necessary to have an impact study to understand that human life and health are non-negotiable?” one resident asked on the commune’s Facebook page.

“Some 80,000 cyclists are prevented from using the Boulevard du Sovereign cycle path every year without a safe detour being proposed. It is time to ask ourselves if this is reasonable and if there are no other solutions?”

Written by Liz Newmark