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Three times as many car owners in Brussels' suburbs than city centre
There are about half a million cars in Brussels, but a new analysis by Brussels statistics office BISA shows that these are mainly registered to owners who live in the city’s peripheral suburbs, rather than its busy heart.
“In the Brussels region, just under one household in two has its own car,” BISA’s report state.
“At the national level, almost a quarter of households do not have a car. And in the Brussels region, only 10% of households have two vehicles or more, compared to 26% at the Belgian level.”
BISA’s latest analysis took a look at the distribution of car ownership among households in the region and its periphery in order to determine whether there is a relationship between the level of car ownership among households and their housing situation.
The further away from the city centre a family lives, the more likely it is that they have a car. While only a quarter of families have their own car in the Pentagon area, in the Brussels suburbs there are more than three times as many.
“In general, a contrast can be observed in the geography of household car ownership between the central areas, where households have very limited vehicle ownership, and the areas in the immediate Brussels periphery, where households tend to have several cars,” the researchers wrote.
“This general pattern varies according to local socio-spatial peculiarities, especially in social housing areas and student neighbourhoods. The geography of company cars largely overlaps with the geography of incomes and, at the local level, contributes to the increase in car ownership among households.”
Everywhere, however, a significant proportion of households do not own any car at all and are relying on alternative means of transport, whether that be public transport or cycling, scooters, or commuting on foot.
A key factor in whether or not someone owned a car was income: the higher the income, the more likely they were to own a car.
“This border effect is clearly related to income,” sociologist Thomas Ermans, co-author of the study, told Bruzz. “In the Brussels periphery, incomes are higher, families often have children and there are also many people over 65 with a car.”
There were also large differences within neighbourhoods, with low rates of car ownership in Matonge, Flagey, Lower Schaerbeek and Lower Saint-Gilles, and higher rates in Molenbeek and parts of Anderlecht.
These families, however, are less likely to be driving company cars, with the exception of those living in the newer neighbourhoods near Tour & Taxis, where there are relatively more company cars.
Generally speaking, car ownership was lower in densely populated neighbourhoods.
“In those neighbourhoods, traffic jams are more frequent and parking is difficult, which may help explain the choice not to buy a car,” Ermans said.
“There is also better access to hospitals, schools and shops a short distance away and via public transport.”
The supply of shared cars may be higher in those neighbourhoods, as well, according to Ermans.
“The results of the study argue for a stronger integration of public transport networks between the Brussels region and the Brussels periphery,” researchers concluded.
“More generally, the distribution of car ownership, as proposed in this focus, can be used as a starting point to modulate public action according to the areas it covers (dimensioning of parking, development of alternatives to ownership, land-use planning, and so on).”