Ghent (Belgium)

Ghent is Belgium’s third largest city with about 247,000 inhabitants on an area of 156.18 km². Over the past couple of years, Ghent has become much more attractive again after the city has made considerable efforts to curb the use of private cars, calm traffic in the city centre and improve bicycle mobility.

In late medieval times, Ghent was the largest city outside of Paris and one of the most powerful and wealthiest cities in Europe. Today, the city’s important port and university still make Ghent a bustling place. The presence of 60,000 university and high school students add to the city’s role as a Flemish cultural centre.  In November 2008, National Geographic Traveler magazine ranked the historic city centre among the top three most authentic destinations worldwide.

Ghent has an extensive public transport network serving the city centre and surrounding area. It is the core of a metropolitan area of about 500,000 inhabitants and there is a lot of traffic in and out of the city. Every day, about 35,000 people commute to and 43,000 from Ghent. The city is surrounded by major motorways that make the city centre easy to reach by car but leave Ghent jammed with private vehicles.

The city of Ghent has implemented a number of plans to counter its traffic problems. In 1993, the city introduced a bicycle plan to foster a cycling culture in the city. This entailed the development of cycling infrastructure, theft prevention measures and setting up a “bicycle unit” in the city administration. The city continues to expand the cycling network including some underpasses beneath bridges.
In 1997, Ghent launched its “Mobility Plan for the Inner City”. The ambitious endeavour to transform the city’s mobility structure faced major opposition from retailers and citizens in the early stages of the project. The main features of the plan were to free the city centre of through-traffic, create a large pedestrian zone, calm traffic by introducing speed limits of 30 km/h between the pedestrian area and parking route, and redesign streets and squares to make them more enjoyable for visitors and citizens. Recent surveys confirm that living and visiting Ghent has become far more pleasant than a decade ago.

    With CIVITAS ELAN, Ghent has improved its public transport system and has continued its policy for sustainable development. A package of 24 different activities aimed to bring Ghent closer to becoming one of the most advanced “mobile” cities in Belgium. Since the beginning of ELAN in late 2008, Ghent introduced 20 CIVITAS-branded hybrid buses and put the first electric shared car into use. Over 50 bus stops have been redesigned to make them safer, and passengers of trams and buses are now benefitting from a real-time travel information system. New bike sheds at Park & Ride facilities are in high demand and an online cycling route planner had over 5,000 visitors in the first two months. Garages for bikes, so-called Bike bins, have been piloted. In an effort to change people’s travel behavior, Ghent ran awareness raising, marketing and anti-vandalism campaigns. The city also stepped up its communication efforts concerning the redevelopment of the station area and introduced a car-sharing concept in enterprise zones.

The Traffic Management as a Service (TMaaS)

The TMaaS is a modular platform which brings together existing urban mobility data from different stakeholders. Beside visualization, it  interprets the mobility data that is fed into it, and alert operators when necessary.Operators and cities can set thresholds and configure preferences for those alerts and can in real-time see the status of all transport modes on a dashboard and can go back in time. No lengthy investments in hardware installations are needed, the cloud-based platform processes multi-modal mobility information. The TMaaS is a unique collaboration between the government, industrial partners and universities. In the first six months of the project, the research partners conducted in-depth interviews with traffic managers, mobility experts, entrepreneurs and citizens to gather insights on the data and datasets that need to be integrated in the TMaaS-platform. They also carried out mobility studies to understand what information end-users need to make a well-informed decision on their journey.In September 2018, ideation and co-creation sessions with citizens, entrepreneurs and traffic managers took place to generate ideas for the concrete functionalities of the traffic management platform.In the first phase of the implementation, the residents of Ghent will have the opportunity to log in to the platform and use the data to simplify their mobile lives (e.g. possibility to select the data they want to see, to enter their favourite routes and get information about the traffic on that route).

Ghent was the winner of the "CIVITAS Bold Measure" Award 2018


Mobility solutions





Yves Roelandt
City of Ghent, Mobility Department Director

yves.roelandt [at]

European Mobility Week
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