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Some Brussels streets become one-way because cars are too wide
As cars get bigger and heavier, some roads in Brussels can no longer accommodate two vehicles side by side, and have to be converted for one-way traffic only.
Rue Maes in Ixelles has been one-way since November, RTBF reports. Others are expected to follow.
French researcher Aurélien Bigo explained that cars have grown 14% wider on average since the 1960s. The Renault Clio, for example, has grown 16cm wider since the 2000s.
City streets have not seen the same expansion. This results in uncomfortable jams that further congest one of Europe’s most traffic-riddled capitals.
It also results in minor collisions, or a car’s side mirrors being torn off as two wide vehicles attempt to both cram into the same narrow space.
Rue Maes was a hotspot for such incidents, a few blocks from Place Flagey.
“There was a lot of honking,” an employee of a nearby shop observed. “Cars were struggling to pass each other and so they were honking. You could hear this a lot."
The city council made the street one-way at the request of local residents, which eased the noise pollution, but urban planning alderman Yves Rouyet said the Rue Maes case is hardly an isolated one.
“It is becoming a real urban problem – because of the size of vehicles, the streets are too small to allow two-way traffic and parking on both sides,” Rouyet told RTBF.
“It seems to me that the manufacturers are shooting themselves in the foot with these very wide models because we, the government, are almost obliged to limit the car's place in the city by eliminating parking spaces or making the streets one-way.”
Rouyet added that the width of cars is also a problem for parking along the streets, as the spaces are sometimes too narrow for new, bigger models.
Some drivers park partly on the pavement in order to avoid having their mirrors torn off by passing cars.