He who was born in Charleroi but who also spends his time between Liège and Namur, received us in Brussels. Minister of Climate, Infrastructure, Energy and Mobility, he appreciates a few days before the world cycling championships “the enthusiasm around our champions (Remo, Van Aert…) and it’s very good for cycling in general. Of course, not everything is rosy in the daily life of Wallonia today with the cost of energy, but also the particular actions, which have been known for some time, however, of the clerk of Parliament, Frédéric Janssens: “A very bad image for the parliamentary institution” as he explains in our video.
With this energy crisis, is it the right time to change mobility?
“The pandemic had brought strong orders for bicycles… Today with the price of energy, many people are trying to do without their car because it is more and more expensive… or combine several means of transport. We can hope that this is a structural reflection…”
Despite its relief, Wallonia invests in cycling?
“We have the cyclostrades with a first section towards Brussels. Economic and tourist development will take place around these cycle routes. You need a quality infrastructure for people to sustainably change the way they move around. »
Bounty requests are on the rise?
“About twenty requests per day: the amount of the bonus is 20, 30 or 40% of the purchase price between 50 and 1200 euros depending on the bike and the type of applicant (electric bikes, traditional, second-hand, foldable…). They are particularly successful in the provinces of Namur and Walloon Brabant (among 26 and 55 year olds). »
Same success for bus subscriptions?
“We note an increase of 11.2% in the number of subscriptions for 18-24 year olds… The annual subscription of 12 euros is already having a good effect. We bet on 18-24 year olds to change mentalities in depth and help create positive habits in terms of transport. We also want an evolution of customers who declare the BIM status: an increase of 17%. The BIM status helps the whole family: 12-17 year olds also benefit from this 12 euro subscription. »
What can you do about the energy crisis?
“Given the scale of the crisis, action must above all be taken at European, federal (VAT, excise and social tariff) and Walloon level. We are acting on the extension of the Walloon social tariff for gas and electricity: the status of protected short-term customer will be extended until August 31, 2023. But also on the winter moratorium on home evictions, on the suspension of power cuts. energy, on facilitating the negotiation of payment plans for households that are unable to repay their debt. Finally, there are also zero-interest loans to renovate your home (Ecopack and Renopack). We must also talk about 1718 (the free number will answer any questions relating to the energy situation and the aid provided by the Region). For companies and the self-employed, there is Easy’green for SMEs and WalEnergie for larger companies. All requests from companies related to the crisis are centralized via 1890.
And the DSOs, can they make an effort without the risk of losing investment resources for infrastructure?
“We must tackle superprofits when there are any, but without destroying the mechanisms for deploying renewables because we need them more than ever (photovoltaic, wind, building insulation, etc.)”
What are the repercussions of your reflection on 100 km/h on our motorways?
“I knew it was going to spark debate. The most important thing is that we are ready with a complete plan (100 km/h is only one measure) on which the government must position itself. We have been working on it for two years. This measure was proposed by the citizen panel and it is not symbolic since it represents 2% of transport emissions. I hear citizens tell me that they have adapted their speed because it significantly reduces their fuel consumption. If this measure were not to come into force, efforts would have to be made elsewhere… the key is to reach 55%. »
The bicycle could become the link between all modes of transport. Do you do it?
“During the week, in Namur and Liège, I go to meetings by bike when the agenda allows it. I am aware that for certain jobs or parts of the Walloon territory, it is complicated to do without your car. The idea is not to ask everyone to do everything by bike or by public transport. I just want every person to think about having multiple mobility solutions. This is why I want to improve the interconnections between means of mobility. »
Going to school by bike is just as complicated…
“I also want to make schools aware of cycling and the “bicycle-bus” with gatherings of bicycle processions as there are walking buses. This also reduces accidents near schools with cars. »
When will there be electric terminals for bicycles?
“We are working on this through mobipoles and carpooling car parks with secure bicycle parking. We must also think about it in stations. It will obviously take years to have a complete mesh. »
Are the buses ready to take the bikes?
“On the Nivelles/Namur line, we have developed the project of bicycles attached to the back of buses. This is a specific request from some travellers… there are also folding bikes, shared bikes. If we only bet on one mode of travel, there would always be limits…”
And on the tram?
“For the Liège tram, we also have to find the right compromise for the place of bicycles. Folding bikes or a place for bikes have been provided outside peak hours. »
Are you continuing to develop the tram and metro?
“We have released 1.1 billion euros for the extension of the Charleroi metro, the Liège tram and the high-level service buses in Namur, Charleroi, Mons, Liège. Our 28 Express lines are also very successful: we have just started the Charleroi/Gembloux line. »
What are you doing this Sunday?
“Obviously I will be cycling. »
What will you be doing at the Fêtes de Wallonie?
“I will be in Namur in particular. There is a great demand from the population. A great need to meet and party. There was a big deficit with the Covid. »
Any event in particular?
“The first stilt fight will be an important moment in Namur. »
Time for you and your family?
“The successive crises that we experience add up. However, I also want to see my children, including the two very young ones. It is essential to see them even if it is not always easy. »
Time to read?
“Lately I’ve been reading ‘Friendship Verses’ by Karim Pot and Christopher Wylie, ‘The Cambridge Analytica Plot to Take Over Our Brains’
Being a civil engineer, an asset or not?
“In infrastructures, I have a lot of technical contacts where I meet engineers all the time; in energy, it’s the same thing… We also have the shortcomings of our training. For example, the world of political communication is not primarily based on rational reasoning of a technical type… it is therefore necessary to combine several approaches that are complete and varied…”
Mobility is changing. Different files are on the table.
Scooters and incivilities.
“This problem is played out at the municipal level, but I remind you that there is a Walloon decree which provides for certain guidelines. This practice must not become dangerous or lead to clutter on the sidewalks. Municipal autonomy is obviously full in this area.
Wearing a helmet still compulsory on a bike or scooter?
“Indeed, it is not compulsory, but it remains recommended and especially for children”
The deployment of shared cars in Wallonia?
“We are in a territory less densely populated than Brussels… we need enough requests and better convince citizens. The use is increasing in Liège, Namur, it works very well. It will take longer to have a sufficient rate of use in rural and semi-rural areas. Companies will have a role to play at this level…”
Walloon car taxation.
New consultations are taking place with the various parties concerned in anticipation of a second passage of the text to the government in the coming weeks.
The car license.
“There are fewer young people who pass their license. They no longer rely on the car as the primary means of travel. »