Cars and Urban Planning: the Goals, Tools and Controversies of Public Policies in Brussels and Paris

By Jean Debrie, Juliette Maulat, Sandrine Berroir, Nicholas Sowels

This paper presents comparative research into urban policies seeking to consolidate alternatives to car-use, which has recently come to be challenged in cities and is now also on the political and media agenda, within very varied urban contexts. Car-use is also at the heart of numerous academic controversies. In this context, we provide a cross-analysis of public policies to reduce automobile mobility in the Brussels and Paris metropolitan areas. This analysis is based on a review of public policy documents and surveys using interviews. It relates to the goals, instruments and ways in which such policies have been implemented. This examination of two metropolitan situations makes it possible to discuss the formulation of goals (modal ratios, decarbonisation, and recent shifts towards the actual reduction of car-use), and the diversification of tools used (incentives and subsequently constraints via the regulation of demand). These are taking place within metropolitan governance contexts marked by problems in coordinating actions. The analysis of the policy toolbox confirms notably a centre-periphery dualisation of mobility regulation, despite recent trends aimed at generalising the reduction of car-use at the metropolitan area level.

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