Inspiration for a low-traffic city

This article was published in 2022, in Magazine 155.

Central GhentAt Camcycle’s monthly meeting in May we were joined by Filip Watteeuw, the deputy Mayor for Mobility, Public Space & Urban Planning in the Belgian city of Ghent. His presentation is a must watch and is available to view again on our YouTube channel.

Filip talks in detail about the traffic circulation plan for the city which transformed transport and improved liveability. All this achieved in under three years and for less than €5 million. There’s a good chance that right now you’re perhaps perplexed or sceptical: just how much better is it anyway? I mean €5 million barely buys you a bridge these days and the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, which was seen as the only way to resolve Cambridge’s transport issues, was estimated in the region of £4 billion. Yet the facts speak for themselves.

Here are just ten of them:

  • One weekend to complete the physical implementation of the Circulation Plan
  • 60% increase in cycling
  • 55% increase in public transport
  • 35% fewer accidents
  • Improved air quality
  • Journeys by young people now 50% bike, 20% foot.
  • Car ownership per household falling 1.2-2015, 1.1-2018, 1.0-2021
  • 15% of paved areas replaced with greenery and landscaping
  • Vehicular concessions for restricted mobility residents
  • 71% of residents in the inner city say it is a more pleasant place to live

In the following article, Camcycle member Bill Blake shows how Cambridge could be a low-traffic city, based on experience from Groningen, Leuven and Ghent. Since this piece was written, the Greater Cambridge Partnership has published its own draft Road Classification plan which is out for public consultation. We’d love to know what you think of these proposals and to hear ideas of your own. Together, let’s help to build consensus between neighbourhoods for the low-traffic city of the future and create an inspiring city vision that can be shared by all.

Josh Grantham