Ghent is an important port and university city. The presence of 60,000 university and high school students add to the city’s role as a Flemish cultural centre.
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.
Ghent implemented a number of plans to counter its traffic problems in the past 3 decades: a bicycle plan to foster a cycling culture in the city (1993), a mobility plan for the inner city (1997), a parking plan (2016), a circulation plan for the inner city (2017), and neighbourhood mobility plans for the neighbourhoods surrounding the city centre (2019 - onwards).
The 2017 circulation plan reinforced the 1997 mobility plan. The plan wanted to free the city centre even more of through-traffic, create a large pedestrian zone, calm traffic by introducing speed limits of 30 km/h 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 3 decades ago.
Road safety and liveability are the current main urban mobility goals, as well as improving modal shift by 2030.