The Brussels-Capital Region intends to introduce a general zone 30 next year and has drawn up a plan to this end. The municipalities can now comment on it, and some do so in a curious way. The advantages for road safety, traffic flow and air quality are undeniable, so they don’t really dare to oppose the principle, but they like to see a lot of difficulties. It sounds strange but apparently they have no idea how to get their citizens to respect the 30 km/h limit. So they ask the Region to adapt the roads to stop people driving faster.

Alternative agenda

Of course, I’m not against re-structuring the streets to make them safer. No one could be against that. But making it a condition for the generalized Regional Zone 30 is not necessary and suggests that these mayors have a different agenda.

Maybe they secretly hope that in this way the Region will bear the costs of the reconstruction of these (municipal) roads? But it is sure that this comes down to boycotting the proposal: it would take so long (and cost so much money) that we wouldn’t have a Regional Zone 30 for the next 10 years.

Strange message 

I don’t know if that’s an ideological point of view or just because they’re afraid to hurt some of their residents. I do know it’s a strange message they give. Not only do they apparently think it’s more important to let a few people drive 50 km/h than to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries.

Above all, however, they say that citizens should only respect the law if we force them to do so. Stop me or I’ll kill you. Something like that. But if you follow that reasoning, you get strange situations. Of course I know I have to stop for a red traffic light, but actually I could drive on. Should we install barriers at every traffic light?


In addition, there is a system that guarantees that every motorist follows the speed rules. It is called ISA: Intelligent Speed Adaptation. ISA automatically limits the speed of your car to the maximum permitted speed. But strangely enough … they don’t like that. When the European Parliament prepared safe traffic measures last year, it only found a majority in favour of the introduction of ISA if it moderated the system.  In other words: if you drive too fast, your car won’t stop you, but your GPS will let you know with a gentle beep that you need to slow down a bit. It is people from the same parties who are now arguing for a complete reconstruction of the roads (which they know will not happen), who have downgraded this.

Dismiss fines

Indeed, there have been judges who have dismissed speeding fines for non-respect of zone 30 because the municipalities had not taken measures to prompt drivers to slow down. Some people interpret this as an obligation to apply speed brakes, cameras, etc. to every road within the 30 km/h zone. What it really was about was that the judge accepted that a driver could not always know that he was in a zone 30. The rule within the urban area is 50, the zone 30 signs are often small, so a driver could be mistaken. And that’s why the judge dropped the fine. Some municipalities solved this by repeating the symbol “maximum 30” on the road surface.

Do not hesitate

However, this problem does not exist in the current Brussels proposal since the Region intends to make 30 km/h the norm. If you have doubts, you drive 30. Everyone is supposed to know and respect the law. That is the basis of our legal system. Aristotle said that already (but in Greek of course). And because of all the discussions, newspaper articles, reports and awareness-raising campaigns, it’s hard to pretend the whole thing has escaped you. So there won’t be a single judge in Brussels who will let you get away with this next year.

A little margin

The great thing is that most people want to respect the law, if it’s clear. Maybe with a little margin – I don’t approve but we shouldn’t be naive, it is for a reason foreign people think we are bad drivers – but even then that’s an improvement. To put it bluntly: if they are allowed to ride 50, they ride 60; if the limit is 30, they aim for 45. And yes, that’s too fast and we absolutely have to get that down with the necessary enforcement, but it makes already quite a difference.

Just do it

Let me quote Montesquieu “The better is the enemy of the good”. So let’s not wait but get into action as soon as possible. If we take a well-considered approach to every rebuilding after that and actively try to catch the violators of the law, we will save a lot of lives in the next few years. And that’s what everyone wants, isn’t it?

This text is a translation of a text originally written in Dutch. As the translation is generated by machines, not all translations will be perfect. The original can be found here: