19 July 2021

Antwerp: the walking city

Walking the streets of ICLEI Member Antwerp (Belgium) has recently become quite a pleasure for many of its citizens, thanks to its ‘Living Streets’ initiative. In Belgium’s second largest city and Europe’s second largest port, where major flows of freight transport, commuters, and visitors typically compete for road space, the aim of this initiative is to create streets for the people where cars are limited and children can play safely.

Since September 2020, Antwerp has created 26 ‘Living Streets’ in its historic city centre, and is looking to expand. In these temporary zones – recognisable by their colourful road markings and signs – pedestrians are permitted to use the full width of the road, playing is allowed, drivers must not endanger or hinder pedestrians (in particular children), the speed limit is 20km/h, and parking is prohibited. To enforce the speed limit, the city has introduced infrastructure such as large plant pots and bicycle stands, where cars need to give way. The city is monitoring this temporary test set-up and, where considered a success, will redesign areas into permanent Living Streets, with long-term infrastructure.

The look and feel of each Living Street is a result of close collaboration between Antwerp’s various stakeholders and city departments including its Communications, Urban Design and Public Space, Public Health, Tourism and Mobility teams. Together, they came up with designs, which take into account the style and conservation of historic street environments.

Antwerp has big plans for its local pedestrians: by 2025, it will have turned 16 percent of the 73 kilometres of roads in its historic city centre into Living Streets, and 28 percent into completely car-free areas.

As explained by Antwerp’s Deputy Mayor responsible for mobility, Koen Kennis, “This [‘Living Streets’ initiative] will significantly improve the living conditions and quality of life for residents and make the city more attractive to visitors.”

This work was conducted in the context of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning: Pathway and Links to Urban Systems (SUMP-PLUS) project, in which ICLEI Europe is a partner. Read more about the project at: