A Travellerspoint blog

Gadding About in Ghent

semi-overcast 12 °C

In many historic city centres outside of North America the once almighty automobile has been relegated to the gutters and public transport is king. Drivers of cars are treated as pariahs who endanger pedestrians and cyclists and foul both the iconic views and the atmosphere of architectural wonders like Ghent in Belgium...
During the middle-ages Ghent was twice the size of London and, with its neighbour Bruges, was at the heart of world trade. Here is the City Hall and seen as it might have been in the 15th century without a car in sight …
While the auto – obsessed taxpayers of Vancouver recently voted overwhelmingly against paying to improve public transit, and demonstrate loudly against any attempts to increase amenities for cyclists and pedestrians, they are sadly out of step with most of the civilised world. Fast, frequent and relatively inexpensive trains link most communities in Europe. This is the smart electric train that sped us from Bruges to Ghent in 30 minutes for just 6 euros ($9 Cdn) return…
The canals of both Bruges and Ghent are maritime highways allowing goods and tourists to be whisked into the cities' hearts without clogging the roads…
The roads and plazas of the city centres are reserved for cyclists, pedestrians and horse drawn carriages…
And large cycle parks have replaced car parks in many places…
While some cities like London have restricted vehicular access by charging a daily fee, others have simply banned private cars altogether. The centre of Ghent is almost entirely free of traffic other than the electric trams that slip silently through the pedestrian friendly streets…
This vintage tram is passing the famous Castle of the Counts, built by Count Philip of Alsace in 1180 AD…
While this sleek modern tram is whisking its passengers past the medieval halls in Ghent’s market square…
History abounds in these north European cities and can be appreciated so much more without the noise, pollution and inconvenience of infernal combustion engines. We live in hopes of the day when North American city dwellers wake up to the smell of roses and not the stench of gas-guzzlers.

Posted by Hawkson 13:14 Archived in Belgium

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Smart and probably healthier people creating pubic transit that works for everyone. Hopefully local transportation is reasonably priced. We are behind the times in Vancouver.

by Sue Fitzwilson

I see another chocolate shop.

by R and B

Missed this city last time I was in the neighbourhood. Now I know what I am missing, I'll make sure I get there. Fabulous photos as usual. Would be nice if they could get those wires underground though.

by Tom

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