The car and the city: A comparative analysis of urban policies in the Brussels and Paris metropolitan areas

By Jean Debrie, Juliette Maulat, Sandrine Berroir


This paper studies urban policies on automobility and possible alternatives. The place of the car in the city is on political and media agendas in various urban contexts. Many controversies have been examined in academic research. Drawing on this existing work, we propose an analysis of the public policies for car mobility reduction that have been implemented in the metropolitan areas of Brussels and Paris. Based on a study of planning documents and interviews with stakeholders, we explore the objectives, the instruments and the implementation of these urban policies. This comparison allows discussion of public policy goals (modal shift, decarbonisation, recent developments towards the reduction of car mobility), and the diversification of instruments used (incentives and secondary coercive tools, demand management, etc.) in a context of complex metropolitan governance. Analysis of this public policy toolbox confirms that there is opposition between central and peripheral areas in the regulation of automobility despite recent developments aimed at generalising car reduction goals on a metropolitan scale.


  • sustainable mobility
  • cars
  • urban policies
  • toolbox
  • Paris
  • Brussels
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