THE PEDESTRIAN ZONE PAINFULLY PASSES ITS FIRST ORAL EXAMINATION
– 28 October 2015 –
Atrium.Brussels has closed its first assessment of the pedestrianisation of the boulevards of Brussels city centre. Flow surveys and satisfaction surveys of Pentagone customers and traders have enabled the Regional Agency of Trade to submit an initial assessment of the project and a list of recommendations to traders and the public authorities.
From the testing of the pedestrian zone, a generalised volatility of pedestrian flow on the Boulevard Anspach is observed. From one month to the next, the daily visits can vary by around 10,000 pedestrians. This is the case for the counting point situated at no. 41/47 Boulevard Anspach, in which the flows went from 37,990 pedestrians per day in August 2015 to 26,930 in September 2015 (-11,060) before returning to an average of 31,979 in October 2015 (+ 5,049).
Analysing this evolution in comparison to that of the Rue Neuve which acts, in the graph below, as standard value, gives a striking result. Both before and after the pedestrianisation of the boulevards, the Rue Neuve shows a very high visit stability. Its maximum amplitude, recorded between September and October 2015, shows an increase of just 2,553 pedestrians per day.
Certain situational factors, such as weather or calendar, indeed fully explain the volatility of the flows in the pedestrian zone.
Nevertheless, the Rue Neuve, exposed to the same factors, is much less affected by them. The major difference between the behaviour of the Rue Neuve and that of the pedestrian zone can be observed in shoppers’ reasons for visiting.
This flow volatility is harmful because it is synonymous with unpredictability and inability to anticipate for both traders and politicians.
If the commercial offer and the shopping mall seem to structure the Rue Neuve and thus stabilise its flow, the same is not true for the pedestrian zone, which tends to behave like a public park, popular for recreational rather than commercial use.
Today, this flow volatility is harmful because it is synonymous with unpredictability and inability to anticipate for both traders and politicians. This turbulence must be constantly monitored to assess its evolution.
Atrium has conducted satisfaction surveys on a sample of 213 customers and 233 traders. The Agency asked respondents to quantify their satisfaction on five different topics: Adherence to the principle, Development, Furnishings, Safety and Cleanliness (see graphs below).
Overall, it shows that customers are more satisfied – or less dissatisfied – than traders with the pedestrianisation of the boulevards. Issues concerning its management are the focus of most of the dissatisfaction.
“One trader out of two and seven customers out of ten say they are indifferent about or support the principle.”
The idea of pedestrianising the boulevards is the topic the respondents are most satisfied with; one trader out of two and seven customers out of ten say they are indifferent to or support the principle. The development and temporary furnishings placed in the pedestrian zone get an average score, with around one satisfied person out of two, both among customers and traders.
The security and cleanliness of the pedestrian zone is the source of most dissatisfaction among traders. Eight out of ten traders said they are dissatisfied with security and seven out of ten said that its cleanliness is insufficient. Between 44% and 50% of customers share their traders’ opinions.
When asked whether the pedestrianisation of the boulevards influenced the visiting of their points of sale, many traders are neutral (40.8%). Nevertheless, the balance tips towards a feeling that the visiting rate has fallen in both the district (30.5%) and in the shops (42.1%). Only 12.4% of traders say that the pedestrian zone has had a positive impact on visits to their shops.
On distinguishing these responses by commercial mix, we see that food, catering and fashion sectors are the only ones to report a very positive impact; this however is a minority response if we consider each mix as a whole. The Home Decoration and Furnishings mix is the one that most often reports a negative impact.