Infrastructure at the institutions
At the Commission: L130 – international architectural competition
The Commission has launched an international architectural competition for a new building around the area where DG AGRI is currently located, the “L130” competition. The construction of the building is expected to take place in 2 phases, between 2025-2030 and then between 2030-2035. This project is a unique opportunity to build office space with improved accessibility for cyclists. EUCG has been complaining for years about the shortage of showers, the lack of metal cabinets where to store clothes and towels, and last but not least the shortage of bicycle parking spaces. It is thus disappointing that dedicated bike infrastructure seems to be completely absent in the competition call. If the Commission needs inspiration, no need to go far away: the building of Brussels Environment is a good example of what a modern building can offer.
How can the Commission do better with its new building?
One radical solution would be to make the building car-free. The competition foresees the construction of a parking lot but this parking lot does not need to be directly connected to the Commission offices and could instead be dedicated to the customers of the shops foreseen in the project or for paid parking; see our proposal for equal treatment of mobility modes already in 2013. If it provides no direct access to Commission offices, money could be saved on guarding costs which could then be allocated to the construction of a secure bicycle shed together with all the facilities that we are asking for.
A more consensual solution would be to make the building a net zero-emission building, taking mobility into account in the overall carbon assessment. This solution would not preclude the access of cars to the building but would presumably restrict it to electric cars recharged with renewable energy because combustion-engine vehicles emit so much CO2 that it would probably be impossible to compensate for it. It is not unrealistic to think that electric cars will have taken over in 2030 when the first phase of the building is expected to be completed.
As in any good old impact assessment, a baseline solution: free parking spaces in accordance with the limits on the number of parking spaces foreseen by present and upcoming regional regulations. The “Règlement Régional d’Urbanisme” for offices prescribes that per 200 m2 of office space, there has to be one car parking space, AND one bike parking space. New legislation in the making will stipulate 1 car parking per 200 m2, and 1 bike parking per 100 m2.
We would like to know your opinion on these possible solutions, please choose your preferred solution!
Why did you vote as you did? Let us know in the comments! For the comments to be visible, click here or on the blog-post’s title to open it up in full-page view.
Hello nice poost
Hi Lea, The safe cycling training helped me a lot to feel safer. I changed many things in the way I cycle in Brussels after the training, and have much less stress and difficulty. It is available in EU Learn, I really recommend it, independently if you want to cycle more or not.
We use a cargo bike, and bike seats on normal bikes. We chose always bike paths, or low traffic streets, and it feels safe.
Also, I avoid peak hours of traffic as much as possible, as the streets are full of non-professional drivers, who go home after a full day of work, tired, under stress of the slow traffic, and I see many mistakes during those peak hours.
I won’t say these are a universal solutions, but it works for our family, and it changed from horrible to works-quite-well. It’s not dreamland-for-biking, but good enough.
As for bike-theft, we have a lockable area in COV2 for bikes, with a video camera. If a bike is stolen from that area, we can track who opened it with a badge that day.
Otherwise, we made a survey in our agency (~450 people) about how people go to work during our away-day. It turned out, the majority, ~50%, uses public transport, a lot of people are walking, going by train and cycling. People going by car was only ~12%.
As for electric cars: despite the billions of Euros and Dollars pumped and being pumped into this e-car project, I find that results are mild at best. Cars are expensive, the range is still no enough to trigger massive take up by users, the battery technology has its own environmental issues, and the congestion problems in cities remain. Probably noise and partly [PM2.5 and PM 10] fine dust will be reduced (only the part that comes from exhaust, but the part that comes from tires and brakes), but then to call it sustainable, the electricity also needs to be generated in sustainable ways, not in coal and nuclear power plants.
Somehow our society wants the ‘car dream’ to be prolonged, so much, but we still don’t have it, although it seems near – “next five years” all the time. I find it’s quite a bet to say e-car technology will have a massive adoption in ten years. Maybe yes, maybe no. I have been hearing this promise every year for the past 15 years…
I say, finally, let’s make it a real pilot project and show case it for all European cities, how to build a modern office building in dense city centre that is forward looking by making it both car-free and emission free.
The technology to make it is there, the money is there, it only depends on political will weather the EC walks the talk or we keep on being a hypocrite to hold with the hare and run with the hounds.
Could someone tell, what are the guidelines, programs, regulations that the EC sets as standard for sustainable urban environments?