The Battle of Two Green Giants

Press Release : July 04, 2015
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On Monday this week, Brussels council officially inaugurated the extended pedestrian area in the hyper city center. This area goes until the Beurs (Old Stock Exchange) and what used to be its noisy boulevard. Henceforth, you can enjoy a walk from the Grand Place and its city hall to the Gallerie de la Reine until the Beurs without being annoyed by cars. This council initiative extended the pedestrian area from 35 hectares to 50 hectares, which makes Brussels city center the second biggest car free zone city in Europe after Venice.
This project was mainly undertaken to tackle the high pollution rate the city is currently facing due to carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. The mayor of the belgian Capital, Yvan Mayeur, said that this measure will take time to be beneficial for everyone as the traffic needs to get stabilized where the cars will from now on redirected. Indeed, the Beurs boulevard was highly used by Brussels citizen to commute to work.
However, to counter the negative externality that are arising, such as people having troubles to go to work, the municipality decided to install a free electric train inside the pedestrian area and to change bus lines trajectory to better fit the transportation needs of the citizens from this area. In addition to these decisions, the council decided to build 5 new underground parkings for a total capacity of 1,600 cars. This project sounds promising, however it is still criticized by Brussels citizens who argue that the traffic congestion will only shift from one part to another and no improvements will be made.

Concerning London, which is the largest capital of the European Union, its council undertook an important project known as the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). This project was launched in 2008 and was progressively implemented with tighter regulations until 2012. The city reacted to its neighbours green initiatives to reduce its gas emissions in the hyper city center. In 2015, a new regulation phase started, that mainly concerned city buses being equipped with a Selective Catalyst Reduction System (SCRS) to reduce NO2 emissions. BY doing so, the capital expects to catch up with its European neighbours, notably Brussels.
In March 2015, the city council announced the creation of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that should be effective by september 2020. This new zone will replace the already existing Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ).Its main goal is to reduce the air pollution in the city center, which has nowadays more and more effects on health. This new measure will require cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, coaches and HGVs which want to circulate inside the zone to comply with certain regulations. If those vehicles do not match the prerequisites, they will have to pay £12.5 per day or £100 if it is a coach, a bus or a HGVs.
Get informed about the new ULEZ standards by visiting the website Transport for London https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone?intcmp=26434#on-this-page-5 where you can find tables summarizing the different requirements you need to meet according to the type of vehicle.

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