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Mobility and transport within the Brussels Region

Key data on travel

The following table shows a strong increase in journeys made on urban public transport and by bicycle in the Brussels territory over the period 2000-2014. According to the Observatory of Mobility of the Brussels-Capital Region, the success of collective transport and active modes can be attributed to various factors: demographic growth and the significant rejuvenation of the Brussels population, the evolution of traffic conditions (slowdown of traffic) and parking conditions, the impoverishment of the population, etc. With regards to the increase in the use of bicycles, the effect of various measures encouraging this mode of transport can also be seen: development of regional and municipal cycling routes (134 km of routes were constructed in March 2016) and an automated bicycle hire network (Villo), support for intermodal bicycle transport/public transport (parking facilities, possibilities to bring bicycles on trains, etc.), introduction of mobility plans (businesses, schools), etc. 

The table below, which was drawn up by the Observatory of Mobility (Brussels Mobility, 2013), is based on the results of surveys on the mobility of Belgians which were carried out in 1999 (MOBEL) and in 2010 (BELDAM). It provides an overview of the data pertaining to the main modes of transport used for journeys carried out within the Brussels Region, in other words to or from the Region, for 1999 and 2010.

These data show a strong evolution of mobility practices during the 2000s, with a particular strong increase in the use of public transport, including incoming and outgoing traffic flows of the Brussels Region. In 2010, with a modal share of more than 60% during an "average day", the car nevertheless remained the main mode of transport for journeys to and from the Brussels Region. Concerning intra-regional journeys, walking is in first position (37%), closely followed by car (32%, compared with 50% in 1999), and then public transport (26%, trains included), and far behind, bicycle (3.5%). Data relating to home-to-work journeys are however provided by reports relating to company mobility plans. Since 2011, businesses and public bodies who have more than 100 workers at the same site in Brussels must carry out a diagnosis of their employees' journeys (including home-to-work journeys), and draw up a mobility plan. In 2011, this obligation concerned 42% of jobs in Brussels.  In particular, the analysis of the dossiers has made it possible to determine the main modes of transport used by the workers in question in 2011, namely (in descending order): by car (39.6% of which 1.6% car sharing), by train (34.9%), by urban public transport (18.2%), walking (3.7%) and by bicycle (2.5%). Compared with 2006, this represents an 18.2% reduction in the modal share of the car, mainly in favour of public transport (Brussels Environment and Brussels Mobility, 2013).

Given the significant demographic growth which the Region has experienced for nearly 20 years, and which has led to an increase in demand for both passenger and goods transport, it can be assumed that without this modal switch from cars to other modes of transport, the congestion problems affecting the Region would be even worse.

Concerning the volume of road traffic, the notebook of the Observatory of Mobility, which was published in 2013 and focuses on mobility practices, concluded on the basis of the available census data that there had been a mixed trend, with a reduction in the amount of traffic at certain points but an increase at other points, in particular on the ring (see Summary of the State of the Environment 2011-2012).

Evolution of the vehicle stock

In 2014, the stock of vehicles registered in the Brussels Region was almost 500,000 cars, of which 35% were company cars (82% were new registrations). After strong growth in the number of diesel vehicles over the last few decades, this segment of the vehicle stock has stabilised since 2011.  61% of the Brussels vehicle stock is currently diesel cars, of which 60% are fitted with particle filters. The average age of vehicles is increasing at both the Belgian and regional level.  More detailed information concerning the Brussels vehicle stock are available in the document "Environmental characteristics of the Brussels vehicle stock" of this edition of the report on the state of the environment (the chapter on Air).

Goods transport

In July 2013, the Government adopted a plan which laid down a strategy for goods transport in the Brussels-Capital Region. Goods transport management is in fact a key element in the improvement of mobility and the problems which it entails, particularly in the urban environment.

Furthermore, the goods transport sector is constantly growing. According to the Federal Planning Bureau, without a change in policy, the flows of goods (tonnes-km) will increase by 44% in Belgium between 2012 and 2030.

The 4th notebook of the Observatory of Mobility of the Brussels-Capital Region (2015) focuses on the transport of goods and logistics. The main conclusions are as follows:

  • roads largely dominate the transport of goods in Brussels, with the use of waterways limited to low value bulky goods which are transported in large quantities, and railways only being used very marginally (in terms of the time trend, this modal breakdown tends to be maintained and even to strengthen road transport);
  • according to the counts carried out by Brussels Mobility in 2012, heavy goods vehicles (including buses and coaches) and trucks (excluding small car-sized trucks) represented around 6% and 8% respectively of the total traffic on the roads into the Region during the week (excluding motorway routes);
  • new counts carried out in 2014 revealed that the proportion of heavy goods vehicles was reducing inside the city (approximately 3.5% of the traffic during the week and 6% on the weekend on the major roads), whereas the proportion of trucks increased slightly (approximately 9% of the traffic during the week and on the weekend).
Date de mise à jour: 17/11/2017
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