Machelen convinced: “Uplace and Mobility go together well”
To better understand what the residents think about mobility in the neighbourhood we went out onto the streets to ask them directly. We gathered together the most frequently asked questions and submitted them to Dirk De Wulf, municipal councillor of Machelen in charge of mobility and thus an expert with experience/
1. Uplace is located next to the Vilvoorde viaduct, one of the busiest points on the ring road around Brussels. Will the extra traffic of Uplace not put too much pressure on the ring road?
At the moment the region definitely has a problem with traffic jams, something which applies to most cities in Flanders. It must be a priority of our society to search for a sustainable mobility solution, but stopping new economic activities will not solve this. In order to reduce the impact of a relatively small increase in traffic as a result of Uplace, a lot of effort is made to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, increase public transport and create the missing links on the road, such as the new entrance and exit complex. This will ensure that visitors are able to smoothly and safely find their way to Uplace.
2. Uplace will create more traffic. Exactly how much? And how much impact will this have?
According to calculations, Uplace expects approximately 8 million visitors annually, of which approximately 75% will come by car. Many of these visitors will be families. Each car will therefore carry several people. This is calculated to result in an average of 7,500 cars per day. This seems a lot, but on a weekday this means an increase of only 0,5% of the existing traffic in the area. This figure does not take into account the fact that Uplace is combining several functions such as shopping, cafés, restaurants, cinema, etc. Because visitors can find all this under one roof it also saves on extra journeys made. Uplace is furthermore mainly a leisure time destination, meaning that visitors will predominantly come on their days off and weekends, i.e. outside peak hours.
3. Will people living in the neighbourhood be able to smoothly reach their homes and the shops in the area after the arrival of Uplace?
A comprehensive mobility plan has been drawn up by the municipality of Machelen together with the Flemish government. The works involved will open up the entire region, for instance by creating a new entrance and exit to the ring road and by remodelling the Woluwelaan. The new layout will ensure that through traffic will be separated from the traffic to and from Uplace, so that local traffic is not obstructed. This should be sufficient to keep traffic flowing smoothly. The first part of the works, the remodelling of the junction RING ROAD - E19 - Woluwelaan is now almost completed. The second phase is the remodelling of the Woluwelaan.
4. Will visitors actually use public transport?
All studies have shown that the planned GEN station and the shuttle bus will ensure that Uplace visitors can smoothly find their way to public transport. The Woluwelaan will also become more bicycle-friendly. These efforts will ensure that 25% of the visitors will use public transport, or come on foot or by bicycle. The project will also focus on home delivery in order to encourage the use of public transport and optimise the comfort of visitors when returning home.
5. In conclusion, will the traffic still be manageable after the arrival of Uplace?
Yes, absolutely. Many studies show that the traffic to and from Uplace will only slightly increase existing traffic in the area. In addition, much is done to ensure the relative mobility impact of Uplace is manageable. This is a fine example of reconciling new economic activity with existing traffic problems. To my knowledge it is in fact one of the only projects where such a thorough solution is offered for existing and future traffic right from the start, with attention paid to car drivers, pedestrians and cyclists and public transport.