Vert EuRopeen/European Green Network) Crossing Brussels-Capital Region
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SECTOR: Green Area COUNTRY:
REVER is present in four countries
in North Western Europe: the Irish Republic, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,
Belgium and France. These countries belong to the North West Metropolitan
Area of Europe (NWMA): a cooperation zone defined in the context of the
Community initiative Interreg IIc programme. These countries share their
desire to pool their experiences and contribute to better balance and
coherence in their national and regional programmes as concerns travel
paths for non-motorized users.
In this sense, REVER represents a spatial network since it is based on
an important potential of independent routes, useable in the short-term
by pedestrian, cyclists, horseback riders, people with reduced mobility,
etc. Theses are the hundreds kilometres of out-of-use railways, as well
as towpaths along the many canals and rivers that crisscross North Western
Europe and itineraries with a historical and cultural connotation.
The network that the partners want to set up and they have called "green
network" should give priority to alternative transport, promote the long
distance connections while using and adding on regional and local itineraries,
value and conserve architectural heritage and provide services to users
(hiring bicycles, skates or horses; information kiosk; recreational, cultural
and sports activities, etc.).
The structure of the Outline Plan correspond to the priority given to
relations both between the various components of the network and between
REVER and the network existing outside the cooperation area. More specifically,
a grid was then defined on the basis of the following criteria. It should:
- Be based on the existing
national or/and national green networks.
the discovery of tourist attractions, historical heritage, remarkable buildings
or monuments, site of ecological or landscape interest
many connections with regions outside NWMA
the development of intermodal transport
a density of grid corresponding to that of the population in the zones crossed
- Favour structure and
function without taking into account of administrative limits.
Connect with town and major cities,
therefore can be combined for internal use (within towns) and long distance
travel (between towns)
Figure 1:part of the global REVER network
To make the most of the experience
of each country or region, REVER integrates the various initiatives of
the partners. To do so, each network has been reassessed and the links,
which meet the objectives of the future network, have been used as structuring
In Belgium, the 3 regional authorities (Walloon Region, Flemish Region
and Brussels-Capital Region) are completely independent as concerns their
town and country planning policy.
The Brussels-Capital Region appears then as a constitutive partner and
a special case in the construction of REVER. Since this is an urban Region,
the size of Brussels and the density of traffic require a more precise
scale of work than for the rest of the North Western Area of Europe. The
advantage of integrating Brussels in the outline plan is to allow the
major lines of REVER to cross the city-region and to form links going
through the town. On the other part, it's also an opportunity for Brussels
to develop an internal-use network dedicated to alternative mobility.
The outline plan takes account
of the analysis done by the Brussels Institute for Environmental Management
(IBGE) in the existing urban development plans and the potential they
To establish the REVER itineraries
crossing the Brussels urban area (89km at all), the following important points
have been taken into account.
- To overlay, as much as possible,
the growing regional Green-and-Blue network.
meet the cyclist's desiderata, following the data collected by Provélo (Brussels-Capital
cross accommodation areas (youth hostelling, camping, hotel, etc.)
join different activities poles (commercial, offices, European districts, universities,
- To cross -or
to go along- the Natura 2000 areas in Brussels
overlay, as much as possible the ICR (regional cyclists itineraries)
dispatch equitably the city's entrances as well as to respect the key-directions
of the REVER outline plan.
conform to the development plans of the municipalities contained in the Brussels-capital
Region and to take their own "green" initiatives into account.
have some rail-stations on the itineraries
cross or to go along the Brussels historical city centre.
take the topographical conditions into account
make possible connections with the Flemish cyclists Network. Even though the
Flemish Region does not take part in the REVER Project, these connections are
important as the Flemish Region surrounds Brussels-Capital.
Taking all this into account,
two main directions have been chosen. The first one is the way that continues
the Charleroi-Brussels canal and the second one is the way along the abandoned
railway lines 160 (Bruxelles-Tervuren). As these two main directions were
not connected, a grid of itineraries joining them was drawn around the
historical city centre.
Figure 2: the REVER itineraries
in Brussels Capital Region
As the REVER outline plan has just
been published in the very end of 2001, only some itineraries' sections has
been studies and partially realised yet:
Along the Charleroi-Brussels canal:
- A Northern section (from
the bridge Van Praat to the Vilvoorde regional boundaries) concerns an old industrial
area where it has been decided to create an autonomous way restricted to non-motorized
travel separated by a slope covered with vegetation. The investments there are
important, there are three reasons for this. First, this section is a part of
several networks and in particular the REVER and the ICR (Regional cyclists
itineraries). Secondly, it's one of the first REVER sections, so this experience
has to be positive and attractive. Thirdly, it is planned in an industrial area
were a recovery planning is very waited.
Southern section (Biestelbroeck, Veeweyde and Demets quays) where the design
studies are just coming to an end.
Figure 3: Walkers and cyclists new wooden bridges
Along the abandoned railway lines
- a major project has been
led there. In fact, 4 (the 5th is coming) walkers and cyclists wooden
bridges have been constructed there to cross some important motorways
of the capital that previously cut the recovered green way.
These bridges appear to be very successful
regarding the number of new greenways users of this section.
Until now, there
are still any indicators established for this particular project in Brussels.
Nevertheless, sporadic studies are occasionally done concerning the fauna
and the flora reintroduced in the city thanks to this kind of initiatives.
But, they are mainly practical observations, not really connected with
benchmark data, and in addition these types of studies are not focussed
on the REVER network but concern the overall green-and-blue spaces in
More generally, the European group in charge of REVER studies collected
some data about the social- economic impact of greenways.
They published a critical analysis and the outlines of the fundamental
debate on the social-economic impact of greenways (see references below).
We show here some examples of such indicators but their interpretations
require discernment. In fact, the studies do not always correlate the
activity of greenway and their current and previous demographic, tourist
or economic environment. The indicators one could find here concern essentially
economic justifications of green ways in rural environment. But, in an
urban environment the economic justification is surely not the most relevant,
it's rather the improvement of the urban environment, the incidence on
health (cycling, walking, etc.) or the contribution to the mobility policy
that has to be laid down.
Figure 4: Social economic impact
Until now there is
no numerical evaluation available yet, so we could just present some practical
remarks and observations.
- Some plant and animal species
have been reintegrated into the city via these green areas.
new-built footbridges (on the railways line 160) play an important role in the
success of the greenways (visibility of the project)
against green network is very rare in Brussels: municipalities, citizens
but also industries (cf. belong the canal), etc.generally welcome warmly
this kind of initiative.
network is initially used for leisure and progressively for utility travels.
Leisure appear then as a good entrance-key.
are in most cases needed, and especially were large green spaces are crossed.
It could be seen as a (very modest) creating-jobs project but it also light
negative aspects of non-civics attitudes.
the same concern, the IBGE has now to publish a green-network-users guideline
because a friendly cohabitation between pedestrians (with or without dogs),
cyclists, skaters, rollers, etc. is not always obvious.
IBGE regrets the project will take so much time to be realised completely. Actually,
the offer of only short network's sections does not allow using it properly
to cross the urban region and thus, many utility-users remain excluded. Of course,
this slowness depends of a lot of external factors and actors.
- The demand for the green-network
is very high in Brussels and an increasing number of users could already
existing network sections are not yet lighted, so the usability is restricted
to daylight. Here we could also ask ourselves about the artificial lighting's
undesirable effects on the nocturnal fauna.
For the project in Brussels
urban area, the data collected by Provelo have been taken into account.
These data are essentially the number of cyclists that could be observed
on different ways and directions. More generally, the European group in
charge of the REVER studies tries to establish a critical analysis of
the social-economic impact of such green network referring to experiences
in France, Switzerland and in Canada (see above).
Figure 5: Provelo (Brussels-Capital
Bicycles Observatory) data
The visibility of the green
network, and in particular of its entrances, seems to be a constitutive
element for the promotion of such project. Actually, we could observe
the busier sections are located near the new wooden bridges described
above. Nevertheless, there is balance to reach : this infrastructure has
to remain unobtrusive.
This kind of project can be a starter for the re-qualification of certain
sites particularly forsaken. This kind of impact appears to be relevant
in an urban area such as Brussels where it's difficult /impossible to
realise a non-motorized network exclusively along kind green areas.
The co-existence between the different users of the network, but also
between the users and the inhabitants, especially in some underprivileged
districts is not always simple. The social and pedagogical aspects could
not be neglected in such cases.
As the REVER network will be
extended to Mediterranean regions (REVER-med will add 33 new partners
to the REVER), the Brussels' project leader has already been in contact
with some future partners. Those in charge of urban areas crossed by the
REVER are already interested in the Brussels experience that try to combine
the connection with a big green network through Europe and an internal
non-motorized network for the town.
IMPACT ON SUSTAINABLE AREAS
emissions to air, water and soil within the restrictions set locally
and internationally? Are the emissions decreasing?
the cost/effectiveness and/or cost/benefits of the system reasonable
compared to other systems? Compared to other needs in the city and
to political goals?
the planning and decision-making for the infrasystem been done in
a democratic and participative way?
an alternative to motorized displacements.
||Low costs but
an existing outline plan.
|Is the use of
natural resources reasonable compared to other comparable systems?
Is the use decreasing? (e.g. fossil fuels, water, phosphorus, potassium)
||Are the citizens
willing to pay for the services offered? Are the services affordable
to all citizens?
||Is the function
and the consequences of the system transparent to and accepted by
the citizens? Is the system promoting a responsible behaviour by the
|Very low use
of natural resources (green network).
||-Willing to pay
-Free of direct charges (public services)
an alternative to the motorized displacements.
|Is the system
allowing a reasonable bio-diversity with regard to the kind of area
studied? Is the bio-diversity increasing?
||Is the organisation(s)
that finance, maintain and operates the system effective?
||Is the system
safe to use for the citizens? (hazards, health, well-being)
of green areas in the city (fauna and flora).
lighting not yet taken into account.
Problems at night.
|Is the system
more or less sustainable than a conventional system regarding ecology?
||Is the system
more or less sustainable than a conventional system regarding economy?
||Is the system
more or less sustainable than a conventional system regarding social
Mrs. Rachel Rubert (IBGE-Division espaces verts)
Tel: +32 2 775 78 48
fax: +32 2 775 77 21
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.ibgebim.be
European Greenways Association
Gare de Namur
boîte 27 B-5000 Namur
Tel: +32 81 22 42 56
Fax: +32 81 22 90 02
E-mail : email@example.com
Website : www. aevv-egwa.org
"Outline plan o A network for
Europe", Greenways for Europe, éd. Resp. J. Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur
(B), décembre 2001.
"Green corridors, outlines routes
and exact lines routes o methodological aspects o technical guidance note
1 ",Greenways for Europe, éd. Resp. J. Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur
(B), décembre 2001.
"Recovery of abandoned railways
lines o technical guidance note 2a ", Greenways for Europe, éd.
Resp. J. Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur (B), décembre 2001.
" Recovery of paths along
waterways o technical guidance note 2b " Greenways for Europe,
éd. Resp. J. Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur (B), décembre 2001.
" Greenways and heritage o
technical guidance note 3 " Greenways for Europe, éd. Resp. J.
Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur (B), décembre 2001. "
The social-economic impact of greenways o technical guidance note 4" Greenways
for Europe, éd. Resp. J. Jiménez AEVV-EGWA Namur (B), décembre 2001.
"The social-economic impact
of greenways - technical guidance note 4" Greenways for Europe, ed.
Resp. J. Jimenez AEVV-EGWA Namur (B), Decembre 2001.