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Cyclist dies at infamous Berkendael intersection in Forest
A 30-year-old woman died at the weekend after being struck by a car while riding her bicycle in Forest. It turns out that the intersection has long been a source of concern for area residents.
The woman was hit by the car at about 17.45 on Saturday while crossing the tram tracks that run along Avenue Albert. She was on the pedestrian crossing that crosses the tracks at the Berkendael tram stop (pictured).
The force of the impact knocked the cyclist through the air for several metres. The driver stopped, and emergency services arrived quickly. They were able to revive the woman at the scene, but she died later at hospital.
“It is not yet clear how the accident happened,” said a spokesperson for the Brussels South police zone. “It’s possible that the driver didn’t see the cyclist because of the tram, which was parked at the stop.” The incident is under investigation.
Source of complaints
This particular intersection has been the source of complaints and even a petition by area residents. Less than three weeks ago, in fact, a resident with kids at the nearby European School – located on Rue Berkendael, the nearest cross-street to the tram stop – sent an entire file to Brussels Mobility after he had nearly been hit himself at the spot.
Dimitri Notte, who is also a tour guide working under the name Brussels Nice Guide, took photos of the spot, pointed out the logistics that make it a dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians and even offered solutions for making it safer.
“A lack of traffic signals and limited visibility make it a very dangerous spot,” he wrote in his letter to the agency. “It is urgent that something be done about it.” He ended his letter with this ominous statement: “Are we going to wait for an accident before we tackle the problem?”
The neighbourhood organisation 1190/0, which fights for safe traffic conditions in Forest, flagged up the intersection two years ago, along with others in the municipality they find dangerous. “We are stunned that this road is still a 50 kilometre per hour zone,” said Joris Vandecruys of 1190/0.
“There are so many blind spots for motorists,” he continues, “and 30 kilometres an hour seems necessary to prevents these kinds of accidents happening again.” He also notes that most drivers don’t even respect the 50km/h speed limit.
“We are of course investigating the circumstances thoroughly,” said Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) via Twitter. “I find it difficult to accept that a dangerous situation was pointed out and yet remained dangerous. I will, together with my team, look into this situation and see how we can do better and prevent the preventable.”