City of Leuven (Belgium)
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Flanders (Belgium). It is located in the centre of Belgium, about 30 km east of Brussels. There are no mountains, only a few small hills. The highest point in Leuven lies 101.33 metres above sea level.
Leuven comprises of the city of Leuven and five former municipalities. It has a total area of 5,751.25 ha and 97,291 inhabitants. The city centre is the most densely populated: 5,029 persons per km².
Much of the local economy in Leuven is related to spin-offs from academic research. This is due to the KU Leuven, which is the biggest and oldest (1425) university in Belgium. Leuven has several biotech and ICT companies and an important academic hospital (Gasthuisberg). Also the brewery Anheuser-Busch Inbev is situated in Leuven. Because of all this, Leuven has a lot of business tourism.
Because Leuven is the capital of Flemish Brabant, there are many governmental institutions located in the city. Also the regional headquarters of the public transport operator De Lijn is situated in the city.
The historical city is very nice and compact. Leuven has the image of being a nice city, partly because of the presence of so many students.
Actual state of accessibility-work
The city of Leuven feels that they are doing quite well in the field of accessibility. They have a very good accessibility advisory board (18 representatives of nearly all groups of people with reduced mobility) that actively helps to improve accessibility in the city and cooperates very well with the departments involved in the accessibility work. When large (re)construction works are being done, the plans are presented for advice to the accessibility advisory board beforehand and adapted accordingly, if necessary. This cooperation has resulted in the city almost never having to ask advice from the regional accessibility office of the province of Flemish Brabant.
The most relevant departments involved in the accessibility work are the department of welfare, the department of land-use planning and the technical service of roads, and the service of city guards. The city has no separate department for mobility. Mobility is the main responsibility of a service within the police department.
The city of Leuven has no responsibility with respect to public transport. De Lijn controls the busses (regional responsibility) and the NMBS controls the trains (federal responsibility).
The city participated in the ISEMOA process because they wanted to assure that the good work will be continued in the future, when other people will be active on the advisory board and/or at the different departments of the city. An accessibility action plan, such as the one resulting from the application of the ISEMOA process, will assure this continuity and will guide the accessibility work in the future.
The ISEMOA team was composed of eight people, being representatives of the welfare department, of the technical service of roads (2 persons), of the service of city guards, of the accessibility advisory board, of the senior counsel and of an organisation of blind people. This ISEMOA team made a thorough evaluation of the accessibility work in the city of Leuven and formulated a range of measures, for each of the components of the quality cycle, to further improve the accessibility work. These measures were operationalised with a time-plan and a department/person responsible for its realisation, and written down in an action plan. The action plan will be presented to the new government, which will be elected in October 2012.
Quotes of local stakeholders
“ISEMOA has given us an objective overview of the current accessibility status of our city and some guidance for the future. Now it is up to us to make it all happen” (Representative of the service of city guards).
“ISEMOA has broadened my vision and knowledge of accessibility. Thanks to the discussions with the ISEMOA team, I have gained insights that I can use in my work as chairman of the senior counsel” (Chairman of the senior counsel).
“The most positive outcome of ISEMOA is us sitting around the table discussing how we can improve the accessibility of our city” (Representative of the welfare department).