Lacking ambition: Ixelles' circulation plan for Flagey met with disappointment

Lacking ambition: Ixelles' circulation plan for Flagey met with disappointment
Vooruit's plans for the area saw the creation of a large green space. Credit: Vooruit

Ixelles presented the new circulation plans for its Flagey area which will come into place in May. Critics have argued it lacks the previous ambition to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists and nature.

Last June, the Ixelles City Council unveiled the details of an ambitious circulation plan around Place Flagey and the Ixelles Ponds, which involved cutting traffic around the square, freeing up space for pedestrians and cyclists to travel through the area safely and for children to play.

On Monday evening, Ixelles Councillor for Mobility Yves Rouyet presented the new plans for the circulation plan. Little remains of the ambition to make the entire area a car-free neighbourhood with plenty of space for pedestrians, cyclists and nature, socialist party Vooruit argued.

The party had suggested turning the heart of Ixelles into "one big park," by making a number of streets near the ponds of Ixelles car-free and replacing them with green space, creating one large zone from Place Flagey to Abbaye de la Cambre.

"Place Flagey is the beating heart of Ixelles. The new mobility plans should have been a boost for this area where many Brussels residents come to relax by the ponds, go to the market or have a drink on the terrace," said Vooruit MP Gerard Oosterwijk. "But for now, it will remain a roundabout for cars."

The new plans will not curb transit traffic, meaning the "numerous unsafe situations for pedestrians and cyclists remain," while the planned traffic filters such as posts and planters, allowing only pedestrians and cyclists to pass, have been removed from the plans.

'Have to be cautious'

In a statement, Rouyet explained that they were adapted in consultation with the Minister for Mobility Elke Van der Brandt in light of the construction works on the Bailli and Vleurgat tunnels on Avenue Louise, at the top of Rue Lesbroussart, which was scheduled to become a one-way street in the direction of Place Flagey.

He noted that the scale of the work on the Avenue Louise tunnels, resulting in a near-total closure for at least 60 days and the reduction of capacity per tunnel for several years, "fundamentally alters the data on the basis of which the mobility plans have been studied and adopted in recent months."

As these works, alongside the closure of Chausée de Boondael for construction works, means the north-south links through Ixelles are likely to be disrupted.

Credit: Ixelles Councillor for Mobility Yves Rouyet

"This forces the regional and municipal authorities to be cautious. Although the computer models seem optimistic, no one can predict exactly what the consequences will be," Rouyet said.

However, he argued that the traffic and road safety emergencies that have been present for many years are not being ignored in the new plan, as "doing nothing is not an option." Traffic measures concerning the east-west links (as seen on the map above) will therefore be tested from 2 May onwards.

This includes changes to ensure one-way car traffic on the chaussée de Vleurgat from Place Flagey to Rue Lannoy, in the Square du Souvenir in the direction of Avenue de l'Hippodrome and on Rue Vilain XIIII between Avenue Louise and Rue du Lac.

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Traffic will also be prohibited between the ponds on Sundays, while a study will be carried out for the construction of cycle paths on Place Flagey.

Rouyet added that the current agreement also Ixelles to mark out the regional and municipal cycle routes, control speeds with speed bumps and create secure pedestrian crossings at the area's dangerous Rodin/Hergé intersection. "An assessment of the situation will be necessary at the beginning of the school year," he concluded.

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