Getting Around Brussels

Brandon Baker is a student at Grove City College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Brandon is currently studying abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.


Brussels‘ public transportation map is itself a work of art, all lines emerging from a single point and decorated with more colors than a rainbow. Clearly, what’s more impressive is not the map but the network of buses, trams, and metro lines that carry hundreds of thousands of passengers ever day. No matter where you are in Brussels, you can guarantee yourself that you’re only a short walk to a bus stop. And if you get lost, which at some point you will, you can locate yourself on any one of the conveniently placed maps at every transportation stop. Fortunately, I can take a single bus line that drops me off within walking distance to all of my frequented stops.

Having grown up in the suburbs with the privilege of having my own car to drive, the thought of taking a bus sounded strange to me. If I was ever in a hurry to get somewhere, I didn’t think twice about getting in my car and taking off. I don’t have that luxury here in Brussels because the bus does not appear when I snap my fingers. I’ve set my magic tricks aside out of respect for a schedule posted at every transportation stop that specifies when the bus is coming, right down to the minute. While bus drivers are no timekeepers, they respect the schedule and follow it the best they can. But be rest assured that if you are running up the street to catch the bus, the driver will certainly wait for you to get on.

Fortunately, drivers in Brussels have ultimate respect for pedestrians. Even the most impatient drivers can manage to pull it together to brake for the old man who spends a decade in the crosswalk. I never worry about getting hit by a car as long as I’m a law-abiding citizen. Being virtually immune to getting hit by a car is no excuse to be careless when crossing the street. Just be smart about it, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Ask your first grade teacher for more tips on being a safe pedestrian.

In other news, Car Free Sunday was awhile ago. On Sunday, September 29th, the only vehicles allowed to be on the road were buses and emergency vehicles. Brussels was eerily quiet without the sound of diesel engines and screeching tires on the road. Car Free Sunday is an opportunity for people to reduce their carbon footprint and promote a cleaner, safer environment. People got creative on the roads by riding bikes, longboarding, rollerblading, and riding horses!

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