Brain Embassy members come to work by (e-)bike, on foot, by (e-)step, by tram, by train, by bus, on rollerblades, on skateboards,… Is the almighty car on its way back? Mobility Week is the perfect occasion to ask one of our expert members, the Voetgangersbeweging (Pedestrian Movement).

Voetgangersbeweging: ‘The modal switch is transforming the way we commute’


Brain Embassy is located right at one of the busiest mobility hotspots in Belgium. It’s an ant nest – some may say a jungle – of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, car drivers, bus drivers, steppers and an occasional hoverboard or monowheel driver. Never a dull moment. No wonder the Voetgangersbeweging picked Brain Embassy for their Antwerp headquarters.

Car utopia

Director Tom Dhollander thinks that the way we commute to work is at a crossroads today. “We still cling on to outdated mobility concepts of 40 or 50 years ago. ‘My car, my freedom!’ But that belief has proven to be a utopia. We are hitting the limits of the car centric way that we organize our mobility. Just take a look out of the window here at Brain Embassy: the roads are congested; cars are stuck in traffic jams all day.”

“If we want to increase road safety, improve traffic flow and reduce harmful CO2 emissions, we must completely change our mobility. The good news is that we have plenty of options. Within 50 meters of Brain Embassy you can choose between a traditional Velo-bike (the red ones), electric Donkey Republic bikes (the orange ones), electric steps and dozens of tram and bus connections. You can easily get around without a car. And if you still need one for bigger distances, you can choose between Cambio, Poppy or other shared car services.”

Hoppin!

An evolution that accelerates the modal switch away from the car, is the combination of different means of transportation. “People don’t just depend on one thing anymore”, explains Tom. “They mix public transport and sharing concepts, for example. To facilitate that modal switch, you need to bring all those mobility solutions together in one place. The Voetgangersbeweging was one of the driving forces of Hoppin, a network of 2,000 of those transport hubs allover Flanders.”

‘To facilitate that modal switch, you need to bring all those mobility solutions together in one place’

Attractive alternatives


Are Brain Embassy members trendsetters? Is the empire of the car coming to an end? Tom holds his horses: “Well, the government is still stimulating cars. I don’t know any other country that hands out as many company cars as we do here in Belgium. We need to invest in public transport, bike lanes and other alternatives. If the alternatives become more attractive than your car, you will automatically make the switch. Don’t kick people out of their cars, lure them into a more attractive alternative. Push and pull.”

“People will still drive cars in the future, but they won’t necessarily own one anymore. If you think about it, a car is actually a very stupid investment. Most cars are parked somewhere 90% of the day. You pay a lot of money for something you only use 10% of the time and at the same time your car takes up precious public space. I think more and more people will switch to shared car concepts. You get access to electric vehicles with the latest state-of-the-art technology, you only pay for the time you actually drive the car and you can book a car just as easily as you book a meeting room at Brain Embassy.”

Team brain embassy

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