In a municipality, somewhere in Belgium, the public authorities and some citizens defend a project of eliminating the car in a section of access to a commercial place. What do shopkeepers and residents think? Often, they wait for « it » to change, while refusing by their behavior to initiate this change. The conservatism that emerges from these remarks is formidable, showing how deeply rooted the practices are in the mentalities. The outcry is worrying, as it is inversely proportional to the magnitude of the proposed change: a small pedestrianized street.
« What do you think about the plan to replace the street where cars pass by with a pedestrian walkway? »
Hairdresser: « not much good. It will bring in the little scoundrels. And then it will prevent the police patrols from passing. There is already a lack of parking spaces. Mentalities are changing you know, but I don’t like what is radical ».
Saleswoman: « I am neither for nor against it. But we need to preserve the small business. The people who come to my house and buy wallpaper, how are they going to take it other than by car? Let me see if I can prove that it will be better afterwards. Things should not be done aggressively, and gently. ».
press merchant: « Bad… I don’t have time to talk about all this. It will bring less customers, already now some people go around two/three times to find a place. And what about the old people who come by car? There will be no more conviviality »..
[While I’m talking with the bookseller, a customer to the bookseller: « Gad Elmaleh is with Princess Charlotte… » » Yes, you know… » ] » But yes, let’s make life green, pedestrians, more bikes, it’s an aberration. That we create a zoo in a park and they go and meet there, that’s good. ».
Bystander: « Pedestrianization is good but I don’t see the point. Not many people are advocating for it because it’s changing habits. It’s going to change the commute, there will be more people making the detour through my street. »
Bystander: « At the same time, we continue to hold car shows… so what do we really want? There is nothing to do, the car is part of our landscape, can we change all that. In any case, we are only moving the problem. The absolute ideal does not exist. I can only do with what there is and I don’t like radicalism « .
Interview by A.P.