More space for pedestrians on Brussels' Boulevard Adolphe Max

More space for pedestrians on Brussels' Boulevard Adolphe Max
Boulevard Adolphe Max, before and after the works. Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

For several years now, Brussels has been working to make the city more enjoyable for cyclists and pedestrians. Works have now started to extend these efforts to Place Rogier.

On Boulevard Adolphe Max, linking Place De Brouckère with Place Charles Rogier, as well as the surrounding streets, cars and concrete will make way for cyclists and nature. The long-awaited makeover was expected to start towards the end of last year, however, a delay in the delivery of materials saw plans being shifted to 2023.

"The renovation of Boulevard Adolphe Max and its neighbouring streets continues the upgrading of the city centre and will highlight the prestige of this avenue," Philippe Close, the Mayor of the City of Brussels, said, adding that these works will help improve the living environment of local residents and traders.

The project, part of a wider bid to "bring back Brussels' grandeur" will include the renovation of a total of 16,000 m² of public space, which will be made "future-proof," including more space being provided for nature, pedestrians and cyclists, in line with the goals set out in the region's urban development policy, Good Living.

Plans for the streets that will be included in the renovation. Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

Aside from Boulevard Adolphe Max, the project will also tackle its side streets, including Rue de la Fiancée, Rue du Finistère, Rue du Pont Neuf, Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue de Malines.

Outdated layout

While the road has been adapted to ensure a one-way traffic system, most of the current layout of the city's key promenade dates back to 1976. Motorised traffic and car parking are given priority, encouraging people to drive fast and park in the wrong places, while making the area unpleasant for cyclists and pedestrians.

Additionally, the condition of the pavements has deteriorated in recent years, further adding to the discomfort. The streets surrounding the Boulevard have narrow pavements, hardly making them preferable to travel by bicycle or on foot between the two key squares.

"These road profiles no longer conform to current standards and give a neglected impression and face several problems, contributing to a "lack of social control and hygiene problems."

As seen in this picture from 1960, Boulevard Adolphe Max has long been a mainstay for cars in Brussels' city centre. Credit: Belga.

Finally, any trees that were placed along the road are in planters, meaning they are not able to grow properly and are at risk of losing branches or falling over.

Back then, trees were a decorative element, today they are an essential part of any redevelopment in the fight against global warming. With these works, we are bringing nature back into the city," said Ans Persoons, Councillor for Town Planning and Public Space.

New chapter

With the works that started on Wednesday, the City of Brussels wants to bring Boulevard Adolphe Max "back to its former glory," by reconstructing it from façade to façade and bringing the street and pavement to one level, similar to works that started last week on the other side of Place De Brouckère.

The layout will include improved street lighting, benches and bicycle racks, while the space provided for cars will be reduced to one smaller lane, making way for green areas and wide pavements in bluestone.

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A total of 60 trees will be planted, while 44 green zones, 87 bicycle lanes, eight benches and five swings will be placed in the area. Rather than it disappearing through the sewers, rainwater will be collected for the green zones and trees.

Pedestrians and cyclists can still move through the affected streets throughout the worksite while all traders will remain accessible. The timeframe for the various phases of the works and how this will affect the area can be consulted on the City of Brussels website. The works are expected to finish by March next year.

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