Car-free Sunday in Brussels leads to a 90% drop in car-related pollution

Car-free Sunday in Brussels leads to a 90% drop in car-related pollution

During European Mobility Week, many cities across the EU have instituted car-free Sundays, becoming more accessible to public transport and cycling

Last Sunday, Brussels instituted a car-free Sunday to mark European Mobility Week, between September 16 and 22. Between 9:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., cars were banned from driving in much of the city, giving way to public transport and bicycles.

During this time, Brussels Environment, the city’s environmental agency noted a 90% off in nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are two toxic substances emitted by internal combustion engines.

Additionally, the city also saw a significant reduction in noise levels, which made for a calm and quiet Sunday. It also highlights a point that city planners have been making in recent years, which is that cities aren’t noisy, cars are noisy.

Calm and quiet day in the streets of Brussels

According to a report by Brussels Environment on September 19, the busiest routes for travel in the city were the most affected by the drop in emissions. At Ars-Loi stationfor example, the concentration of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped by 80% compared to normal weekends.

Compared to weekdays, the decline is even more pronounced, with around 90% for nitrogen oxide and 86% for nitrogen dioxide.

In addition, background noise levels have also decreased around the Belgian capital. The results were compared to sound measurement stations near roads and highways. For example, near the E411 in Auderghem and near the E40 at Woluwe-Saint-Lambertsound measurement stations recorded a 90% reduction in noise levels.

For less noisy streets like Avenue Houba de Strooper and Chaussée de Wavre in Auderghem, the drop was less pronounced, but still significant – at 68%.

The authorities point out that annual emissions have been falling since 2019, by around 10% per year. However, there is still a long way to go, because according to European Environment Agency, in 2018, Belgium recorded approximately 8,900 deaths caused by air pollution.

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