Brussels will make public transport and city bikes free on high air pollution days in a bid to cut the levels of smog in the city and to meet EU quotas.
Once two consecutive days of high air pollution are registered in the city, the council will allow passengers onboard buses, trams and metros completely free.
Cars speed limits will also decrease by about a third and stoves burning wood banned under the law proposed last week in a joint effort to lower emissions. The measures are expected to start this summer.
Upcoming apps and websites will be available for residents to check Pollution levels to see when it excel the levels and when transport will have free use.
Brussels’ mobility minister Pascal Smet told The Guardian these measures would review tax and planning benefits that have benefited the 350,000 regular car commuters over the years.
“We need to create quality public space,” Pascal said. “Research shows that the more space you give to cars, the more cars you attract. Indeed, the most car-friendly cities are also the most congested. By giving back space to pedestrians and cyclists, cities can create places where people meet and connect.”
Brussels failure to deal with its air quality has long embarrassed EU officials and diplomats who often talk about reducing EU nations pollution. That’s why this move is the milestone of Brussels move towards low emissions zones that will progressively phase out the most polluting cars from its streets; with City buses to all be electrified by 2030.
Brussels planners are hoping this move will not only reduce pollution but create a family-friendly city. “The idea is not to ban cars from the city, but to find a new balance,” Pascal said.