Almost 225,000 automobiles enter or leave the Brussels-Capital Region each day, adding to the 175,000 used each day by residents. The consequences: traffic congestion, stress, risks of accidents, noise pollution and air pollution. There is no shortage of alternate solutions for getting around in Brussels: train, tram, bus, and metro, but also bicycling, walking, carpooling or car-sharing, sorely-needed ways to relieve the congestion in the city.
Iris 2: The Travel Plan for the Brussels Region
Ensuring the quality of life in Brussels, allowing everyone to travel tranquilly in an efficient, high-quality infrastructure, improving the complementary nature of the various means of transport... these are some of the priorities, among others, in the Iris 2 Plan, the Travel Plan for the Brussels Region.
A vision of mobility by 2015-2018, this Plan provides for a series of steps intended to improve daily life for Brussels residents, commuters and tourists. It strives to establish an equilibrium between mobility needs and the quality of life in the region.
Trains, metros, trams and buses are fast and economical, pollute less and avoid the stress of traffic jams. Their users can devote themselves to other occupations such as reading or socialising. All advantages that explain the growing success of public transport in Brussels, allowing people to travel everywhere in the city; the SNCB serves 28 Brussels train stations and the STIB network includes over 2200 stops, not to mention the Walloon and Flemish public transport companies, with buses also reaching or crossing the capital (TEC, De Lijn).
In an urban environment, the bicycle is often faster than the car. It does not pollute and makes no noise. The Brussels-Capital Region has developed a network of 19 signposted cycling itineraries (ICRs) that cyclists can take to comfortably cover moderate and long distances A "bicycle map"allows the cyclist to set out his course. It indicates existing cycling itineraries, other facilities, bicycle parking locations, the relief, etc.
The Green Promenade, a magnificent trail of over 60 km, allows pedestrians and cyclists to tour the Region by travelling through parks and preserved green spaces. Via the Villo! system, the Brussels-Capital Region makes 180 self-service bicycle stations, accessible 24hr/24, 7days/7, available to everyone. In addition, Brussels already has five ‘bicycle points’: four at the major train stations and one next to the ULB/VUB university campus. This is a social economy project thanks to which bicycles can be maintained, rented and stored in complete safety.
The distances on foot are not as long as commonly believed in Brussels. The Region has published a “pedestrian journey time map” called "TAP TAP". The journey time between the principal Brussels reference points (town halls, heritage or cultural curiosities, recreational or sport centres, shopping centres, etc.) is given based on a walking speed of 4.5 km/hr. The Region hopes to use this map to promote walkingas an alternative to city congestion and as a healthy and sustainable means of transport.
For those who occasionally need a vehicle but don’t need to own one, the Brussels-Capital Region and its partner Cambio offer a broad “car sharing” or ‘à la carte’ car rental service. In Brussels, there are already over 72 Cambio stations.
The “Bruxell'air Bonus” is granted to residents who decide to turn in their licence plate and switch to other, less polluting, means of transport. This measure also encourages destruction of the most polluting vehicles, as an additional bonus is granted to those who have their car demolished. The bonus consists of subscriptions to public transport or financial assistance in buying a bicycle, in addition to a subscription to the Cambio car-sharing system.
Company travel plans (Plans de déplacements d’entreprises, PDEs) and school travel plans
Starting in June 2011, any company with more than 100 workers on a site must draw up a PDE. This involves 600 companies and over one-third of the jobs in the Brussels region. Companies can thus contribute to reducing the automobile pressure, notably by reducing travel in individual cars.
The Region also supports schools to aid them in drawing up their school travel plan.