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Car-free Belgium: why can’t Brussels match Ghent’s pedestrianised vision?

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

In Belgium, cars are cherished possessions and driving is a staple of everyday life. But two of its major cities are making forcible efforts to cut down the traffic on their streets – with wildly different results

One morning in 1997, Frank Beke, the mayor of Ghent, woke up to find he’d been sent a bullet in the post. For the next few weeks Beke wore a bulletproof jacket, while police stood guard outside his house and accompanied him everywhere he went. “I was very anxious for my family,” he says. “I was protected by police but my wife and my children weren’t.”

The culprit was eventually found and arrested – a man who owned a shoe shop in the Belgian city’s medieval centre. His motive? Beke’s plans to pedestrianise the area around his shop.

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