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At a snail’s pace… the new 5km/hour street in Forest
“You know the 30km/hour zone and the 20km/hour zone…. But have you heard of the 5km/hour zone?” So begins a Facebook post describing a small section of avenue Kersbeek in Forest, Brussels, where cars must now drive at the speed of pedestrians.
“The street is in a municipal building site, so the commune decided on the 5km/hour zone to stop car drivers getting flat tyres,” said a spokesperson from the mayor’s office. The top layers of the road have not been placed. The sewer covers therefore stick four centimetres out of the ground, which can have unfortunate consequences for cars in too much of a hurry, he said.
Some motorists say this speed limit is not very realistic, but the office disagrees: “If it’s to avoid a danger, it is completely realistic.”
Realistic perhaps, but hardly common, says police commissioner Olivier Quisquater who has never seen this limit imposed before in the public domain. “In residential housing blocks it happens, but the limit is only imposed in pedestrian areas.
“If it’s temporary, I don’t see too much of a problem,” Quisquater says. “But if the speed limit becomes permanent, the case will be a little more complicated.”
As it is, controlling infractions to the new rule will be nothing if not complicated, Quisquater said: “The old-generation radars cannot flash when cars drive under 30km an hour. However, a police officer can issue a fine to a motorist driving at a speed significantly higher than a pedestrian’s.”
This is probably not the commune’s intention though, Quisquater said, repeating that Forest only really introduced this limit to protect the axles and wheels of vehicles using this road. In any case, Quisquater added: “The lower the speed limit, the more difficult it will be to enforce.”