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‘Pak ze aan, de Turnhoutsebaan’ - cyclists' safety in a less car-centric Antwerp, Belgium

The 'Turnhoutsebaan' is a route for cyclists, cars and public transport from the northern and eastern suburbs of Antwerp to the city. Yet, too often the traffic victims in this key route are cyclists.


The 'Turnhoutsebaan' is an important route for both cyclists, cars and public transport from the northern and eastern suburbs of Antwerp to enter the city. Yet the cycling infrastructure is lagging far behind, so far that one in two traffic victims in this key route are cyclists [1]. Considering the increasingly higher number of people choosing to cycle to work and the corresponding mobility plans of both the city of Antwerp and the Flemish government to increase the number of cyclists, citizens demand a safer environment for cyclists on the Turnhoutsebaan. Aside of the usual lobbyists for better cyclist infrastructure, the Belgian Cyclists Union (Fietsersbond), an extra organization was founded to specifically tackle the issues on this road, 'Pak ze aan, de Turnhoutsebaan' which means "Tackle it, the Turnhoutsebaan", in Dutch. The organization first gained publicity through its facebook group and instagram page, further on they organized several public actions. They were founded closely after the Flemish region proclaimed they wouldn't fix the regional road Turnhoutsebaan any time soon [2]. More specifically the organization wants the Flemish region and Antwerp local government to:

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:‘Pak ze aan, de Turnhoutsebaan’ - cyclists' safety in a less car-centric Antwerp, Belgium
State or province:Antwerp
Location of conflict:Borgerhout, Antwerp
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Ecosystem Services
Disproportionate use of urban space by cars. The commodity causing the conflict is cars, together with urban planning at the service of the cars.
Project Details and Actors
Project details

According to Prof. Dirk Lauwers [6], 9 Dec. 2021, traffic measures on the Turnhoutsebaan in Borgerhout would be introduced by the Agency for Roads and Traffic (AWV), under the responsibility of Flemish Mininister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld): a speed limit of up to 30 km per hour and turn the currently busy road into a bicycle street. In addition, there will be loading and unloading zones and a red road surface and ground marking on the carriageways. There will be a flash camera and new smart cameras at the traffic lights can record whether cars use the tram and bus lane improperly. This proposal was explained to the city and district administration and other stakeholders such as the traders' association and the citizens' collective 'Pak ze aan Turnhoutsebaan'.[6].

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Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:01/10/2019
Relevant government actors:Mayor of Antwerp: Bart de Wever
Antwerp Alderman for mobility: Koen Kennis
Flemish minister for mobility: Lydia Peeters
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Pak ze aan de Turnhoutsebaan (a citizens' initiative):
Fietsersbond Antwerpen:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents
Other Health impactsTraffic accidents, cyclists as victims.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsDevaluation of the street and area.
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Speed down car speed to 30 km per hours. Cyclists lanes.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:By December 2021 there are proposals to change the traffic rules, mainly to avoid accidents to cyclists.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] De Morgen, 9 Dec. 2021. Dirk Lauwers is professor of mobility at Ghent University and UAntwerp and is involved as an expert in the citizens' initiative 'Pak ze aan de Turnhoutsebaan' that strives for 'a safer and greener Turnhoutsebaan for everyone'.
[click to view]

[1] Helft verkeersslachtoffers op Turnhoutsebaan is fietser: “Dat iedere twee weken iemand gewond geraakt is onaanvaardbaar”. Sacha Van Wiele. 2 dec. 2021
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[2] “We schoppen met onze acties wel eens tegen de schenen". 11 june 2021.
[click to view]

[3]Voormalig burgemeester Bob Cools: “Maak van Turnhoutsebaan eenrichtingsweg voor auto’s, zodat je de effecten kunt meten”. Philippe Truyts, 8 Oct. 2021
[click to view]

[4]Turnhoutsebaan in Borgerhout wordt fietsstraat: "Er gebeuren jaarlijks te veel ongevallen". Turnhoutsebaan in Borgerhout wordt fietsstraat: "Er gebeuren jaarlijks te veel ongevallen"

De Turnhoutsebaan in Borgerhout wordt een fietsstraat, dat heeft minister van Mobiliteit Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) beslist. Fietsers zullen er binnenkort voorrang hebben en de hele straat wordt een zone 30. "Er zijn te veel ongevallen met slachtoffers en het is bijna waanzin dat je er nu nog 50 kilometer per uur mag rijden. Dit is dus een fameuze stap in de goede richting", zegt districtsburgemeester Marij Preneel (Groen). Léonie Van de Vliet. 28 sep 2021
[click to view]

[5]Geen advies Turnhoutsebaan omdat na twee verdagingen termijn is verstreken. Sacha Van Wiele,Patrick Van de Perre. 10 december 2021 .
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Timothy Abraham, university of Antwerp, [email protected]
Last update19/01/2022
Conflict ID:5793
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