Brussels and Paris move to limit cars in city centres

Belgian capital aims to limit cars from this summer, centre of Paris will be largely car-free from 2024

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Paris and Brussels are both moving to having largely car-free centres are the councils of both announced plans to restrict private vehicles last week.

The capital of Belgium will introduce a low traffic zone within its inner ring road from 16 August, while Paris will ban private vehicles from a "tranqil zone" in its historic centre from 2024.

Both moves are aimed at cutting air pollution and tackling climate change, while also dealing with congestion in the middle of the cities.

The scheme in Brussels was approved by its city council last Thursday, and will consist of one-way streets and limited-access zones to restrict car use through the centre. It is similar to low-traffic neighbourhood schemes seen across the UK, but on a larger scale.

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The "Good Move" plan seeks to "redirect traffic that does not necessarily have to be in the neighborhood to its destination or to one of the public car parks via the external axes", and allow for more pleasant "living, shopping and walking".

Increased cycling infrastructure is a key part of the plan. Studies have shown that a lack of cycling infrastructure is the biggest thing holding people back from using their bikes more.

"With current circulation there's a lot problems with road safety, with air purity and with noise," Bart Dhondt, the council's alderman for mobility and public works, said. "What we're aiming for is to create an accessible and attractive city for everyone: residents, tourists and workers."

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(Image credit: Paris.FR)

Meanwhile, Paris will zone off much of the 1st-4th arrondissements and ban private vehicles from them. This is the centre of the historical capital, and includes the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis, the two islands in the middle of the Seine.

Through-traffic will be prohibited in favour of pedestrians, bicycles, public transport, and certain categories of allowed vehicles, such as tradespeople. The aim is to "reduce the volume and speed of motorized vehicles in the area to facilitate and secure travel on foot and by bicycle".

Random checks by police will regulate vehicle use in the zone until technology allows for this to be done automatically, the Paris government said.

The plans are in place to make Paris less-car focused ahead of the city's hosting of the Olympics in 2024. They were originally supposed to be ready for this year, but have been delayed. It is estimated that it could take 10,000 cars of the streets of the French capital.

Multiple new bike lanes were put down in Paris during the pandemic, aimed at transforming the city into a bike-friendly space; the low-traffic zone is the next part of this project.

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