The way in which we move from one place to another, has a major impact on the quality of our lives. Fortunately governments and companies, as well as civil society organisations, are increasingly investing in sustainable transport alternatives. A brief overview of some interesting initiatives our members are working on.
Sustainable mobility for everyone
With their online campaign “Ik geraak er niet!” (I can’t get there) the anti-poverty organisations Netwerk tegen Armoede and Welzijnsschakels, together with the mobility organisation Mobiel 21, try to ensure that sustainable mobility remains a basic right for everyone. Because getting there -to school, to work or to the doctor- is not so evident for everybody. Via the dedicated website ikgeraakerniet.be people can share their personal stories. These are then analysed, in order to map the most frequently encountered problems. Armed with these specific needs the 3 partner organisations can address the most appropriate policymakers and governments.
Hybrid busses and green-powered trams
The Flemish public transport company De Lijn opts for sustainable technologies when buying new busses. In 2014 it introduced several environment-friendly models, including hybrid hydrogen and electric busses. Since June 2015, De Lijn has taken 138 new hybrid busses into service. The new vehicles have been deployed in the city networks of Hasselt (8), Ghent (30), Antwerp (32), Bruges and Ostend (33), and Leuven (35). With a total of 70 busses, Leuven now has by far the largest hybrid fleet in the country. In fact, this latest delivery tripled the size of De Lijn’s hybrid fleet, making it the largest in the Benelux, with a total of 217 hybrid busses - 1 out of 10 within its total fleet. Added to the fact that all trams run on 100% green electricity, this means that the environmental footprint per passenger has dropped by 4% since 2011.
With the launch of 138 new hybrid buses in Antwerpen, Brugge, Gent, Oostende, Hasselt and Leuven in 2015, De Lijn takes a step forward in sustainable technology. This innovation gives De Lijn the biggest hybrid fleet within the Benelux region: 217 hybrids buses, or 1 in every 10 buses in the country. At the same time, the public transport company and its partner SCNB offer a bike-sharing system called Blue Bike. Available at different strategic junctions of bus, tram and railway stations, this initiative offers Belgians more possibilities in combining public transport systems.
Still need a car? Switch swiftly between public transport and private cars.
What if you’re not interested in having your own car, but still want to go away for the weekend or out shopping for the day? Then you can use a Cambio car. At your disposal next to strategic public transport hubs all over Belgium, these cars are easy to combine with a train, tram or bus trip.
This car sharing system was launched in Belgium by Taxistop and TEC in 2002. One year later, it was extended to Brussels thanks to a partnership between Taxistop and the Brussels public transportation company MIVB/STIB. In 2004 Taxistop got together with Flemish bus company De Lijn to make Cambio cars available in Flanders too. And finally, in 2009, the national railway company NMBS/SNCB joined the project. Last year the number of users in Flanders passed the 10.000 mark, which amounts to 22% growth calculated on an annual basis.
According to this article in the newspaper De Morgen, some 12-14.000 people used various car sharing systems in Flanders in 2015. The approximately 1.200 cars are provided not only by Cambio, but also by organisations like Autodelen.net. The latter recently launched the Avira project together with Taxistop. Avira facilitates transport for people with a physical disability, by organising the sharing of specially adapted private cars.
Fietsersbond and Pro Velo encourage alternative mobility
In April 2014 cyclists’ organisation Fietsersbond took experts from KPMG with them on a healthy cycle ride through Brussels during a Job Switch Day. The consultancy company was working on some studies concerning intelligent mobility budgets, which could be used as supplements or even alternatives for company cars. Thanks to this exchange, the two teams each got a better idea of how the other worked. Afterwards they explored together how they could increase their expertise in sustainable mobility.
In 2015 Fietsersbond launched My Bike World, a call for ideas for building a bike-friendly future. They created a website on which people could make suggestions such as, for example, making their street a 30km/h zone, or building a cyclists’ bridge on their route. You can discover all the winning projects in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia on the site mybikeworld.be.
Another organisation encouraging people to use their bikes more often, is Pro Velo. Via 'The Bike Project' they offer organisations in the Brussels area individual support to draw up an alternative mobility policy. An expert guides the local mobility coordinator in making a mobility analysis and drawing up an action plan to encourage employees to use their bikes. You can find more info on thebikeproject.be.
On the road to the future
Belgium’s central location means there is a good deal of transit traffic. We cannot solve this and other mobility issues by playing different types of transport off against each other. That is why we continue to look for solutions for liveable, healthy and economically viable traffic policies together with our member companies, SMEs, academic institutions and civil society organisations.
For example, BAAV, the professional association for bus and coach operators, and the Flemish Institute for Mobility (VIM) are bringing a number of partners together to test whether a well-equipped office bus could serve as transport to and from work. We warmly invite any members who think that this kind of office bus could improve accessibility to their work site to get in touch with us. On the following link you can find more info about this project called Office on Wheels.
In addition, we continue to reflect, together with a few academics and partners from civil society and business, on an alternative to company cars. Building on the expertise developed by ARGUS in this area, we are currently studying 2 preliminary phases. Soon you will find more info here on the way in which you can contribute to these.
Do you have any other concrete projects or interesting ideas that can facilitate the shift to sustainable mobility? Be sure to let us know via email, our website or social media!