Social media response to Brussels' Good Move mobility plan better than expected

A data analysis of messages on social media platform X shows that the feelings of people in Brussels about the Good Move mobility plan have not been as negative as expected. The analysis shows that, despite widespread polarisation on X, the debate has been rather nuanced.

Good Move, which was approved by the Brussels regional government in 2020, has been the subject of debate for years. The implementation of the plan, which aims to reduce the dominance of the car in Brussels, provoked a lot of protests from drivers.

In some communities, the protests got out of hand, such as in the Berenkuil district of Schaerbeek, where traffic filters were broken and masked vandals smashed traffic signs and set fires.

Nuanced debate

VUB researchers from the Data Analytics Lab looked at the extent to which the protests matched the debate on social media. They wanted to find out if Brussels citizens were so negative on social media about the plans.

The researchers examined 2,000 tweets between 2019 and 2022 for sentiment regarding changes to the city's mobility policy. According to the researchers, the traditional media went too far in following the protests. In contrast, sentiment on X was more nuanced. The analysis of social media posts was carried out using the AI tool GPT4.

"After a while, people see the improvement and don't want to go back"

"This confirms once again that in addition to polarisation, there is also support for making the city more liveable," said Brussels Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt. "Even when we introduced the 30 km/h zone or put in extra cycle lanes, there were loud protests. After a while, people see the improvement and don't want to go back."


A protest against the Good Move mobility plan in 2023 © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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