READ ALSO. Belgian pedestrians give their municipality a bad report
It is the first time that a Belgian Pedestrian Barometer has been drawn up, an initiative of Tous à Pied, Pedestrian Movement and Walk.Brussels. 13,500 Belgians from 544 municipalities participated in this survey. The municipalities and cities receive an average of 10.4 out of 20. Antwerp therefore does less well than the Belgian average with 10 out of 20. Compared to other cities, the Scheldt city is doing less well than Brussels (10.1/20), Turnhout (10.4/20) and Ghent (10.7/20), Mortsel (10.3/20), but better than Mechelen (9.6/20).
If some aspects are examined, the ‘good news’ is that the city has narrowly succeeded in terms of the pedestrian network and road safety.
Despite the efforts of the city of Antwerp to create residential areas and garden streets, pedestrians do not feel sufficiently heard by the policy. For example, seven in ten Antwerp residents surveyed believe that the needs of pedestrians are not being listened to. Just over 63% see no improvement compared to two years ago.
Lack of courtesy
Six in ten lack greenery in their neighborhood. Courtesy in traffic is another sore point. About 60% disagree that the relationship between pedestrians and cyclists, and pedestrians and motor vehicles, is courteous. That figure rises to 83% when it comes to scooters and skates, among other things. This is far above the average in the province of Antwerp and Flanders.
Another sore point are the sidewalks in Antwerp. Only 23% of the people surveyed agree that they are sufficiently wide and flat. 76% are bothered by obstacles such as bicycles, garbage cans, traffic signs and charging stations. 73% disagree with the statement that a safe diversion is offered during works on footpaths or in pedestrian areas.
Only 35% find it pleasant to walk in Antwerp. Eight in ten experience nuisance from motorized traffic in terms of crowds, noise pollution and air quality.
“Although the city council of Antwerp wants to make it a pedestrian city, pedestrians clearly do not experience this and Antwerp is not doing much better than other cities and municipalities,” says Tom D’Hollander of the Pedestrian Movement. “There is a large gap to be made up regarding the condition of the sidewalks. People are literally and figuratively tripping over the sidewalks. Investments have been made in residential areas, but it is also important that there are good connections for pedestrians between these areas. Additional resources are needed for pedestrian infrastructure. That happens for cyclists, but I miss that for pedestrians.”
Some streets, especially in the historic city center, are very narrow. “In such a case, the city council must make a clear choice,” says D’Hollander. “Do you leave that space to the car or do you make room for pedestrians?”