- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Permit requested to transform A12 in Brussels from three-lane motorway to green promenade
Brussels Mobility has submitted a request for a permit to completely transform the part of the A12 located in the region and the R21 avenue, which takes over from the A12 and leads to the Van Praet bridge on the canal. The plan is to reduce car lanes on the thoroughfares and create greenspace, a walkway and a tram line.
The Strombeek-Bever exit from the R0 takes drivers along the three-lane A12 motorway past Brussels Expo and Osseghem Park, turning into the R21 at the Royal Park of Laken. It continues in both directions until the Van Praet Bridge over the canal near Docks shopping centre.
The proposal would see a ‘green promenade’ created along this three-kilometre stretch of road, reducing the three incoming lanes of the A12 to two, and then eventually one. The outgoing A12 lanes would be reduced from the current three to two. The speed limit on the A12 would be reduced from the current 90kph to 50kph.
Quality of life
The project would also see the new tramline to Neder-over-Heembeek run along the avenues, cycle highways and a pedestrian pavement between the trees. “The motorway runs along residential areas, and we want to improve the quality of life for residents by giving green space back to active road users such as cyclists and pedestrians,” says Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen). “This will allow a better balance between access to the city and the liveability in these neighbourhoods.”
Associations representing employers and the auto industry are, as would be expected, concerned about the proposal. Such a change will, according to Flemish chamber of commerce Voka and motor club Touring, discourage visitors from coming to Brussels and from taking jobs in the capital.
While Van den Brandt says that commuters will be encouraged to seek alternative forms of transportation, the organisations say that the current options for public transport are not satisfactory.
The permit requested would see a transformation of the A12 and the R21, from the R0 to the canal ©Google
Mobility expert Chris Tampère of KU Leuven understand Brussels’ desire to increase green space and make the area nicer for residents. But, he told VRT, “you sacrifice a piece of buffer space, which makes your road network more vulnerable. If, for example, a minor accident occurs, it immediately has major consequences up to the Ring and the highways that lead to it.”
Tampère sees potential in Brussels’ approach to making public space more usable for cyclists and pedestrians, but he find it unfortunate that the capital is not working together with Flanders to create a comprehensive and cohesive plan.
“Flanders relies on Brussels to distribute traffic smoothly for commuters coming in off the Ring,” he said. “And vice-versa: Brussels counts on Flanders to guide commuters from the Ring to various access roads, thereby helping reduce traffic driving through the city. Yet there is little co-ordination between the regions, and they often decide on these changes unilaterally.”
Image top courtesy Brussels Mobility