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Brussels to limit cars in the city center from August

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Brussels is taking steps to limit through traffic in the city center from August 16, a move aimed at greening the capital but one that risks angering some locals.

The new scheme, approved by the city council on Thursday, will rely on traffic loops, one-way streets and limited access zones, making it harder to transit through the center. Such trips account for a third of inner city traffic.

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

Authorities expect the new measures will free up space in central Brussels, allowing them to build more green spaces and public squares. The plan also includes pledges to beef up public transport and expand infrastructure for cyclists.

It’s part of a long-running effort to cut down on the number of cars clogging the city. As part of the wider Brussels region’s Good Move mobility plan approved in 2020, authorities have increased the number of bike paths and pedestrian-only zones. Last year, Brussels brought in a 30 kilometer per hour speed limit for the whole city.

Local businesses and residents were given a say in drafting the new plan, which does still allow through traffic in some areas and also maintains access for suppliers to local businesses.

But not everyone is happy with the changes.

Aurélia, a sales manager at the clothing store Kiabi in central Brussels, said the move will “affect the sales of all local businesses” as most of their clients use cars. She also worries that restricting access would discourage tourists.

Laurie, an artist who lives in the city center, said the new measures will make it “more pleasant to stroll around the city … which is a good thing.”

Local authorities will hold a series of neighborhood meetings next month and will seek feedback on the plan once it’s implemented.

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