Woodmere Avenue: Britain’s Infamous Width Restriction Keeps Wrecking Cars

Dec 15, 2021 0 comments

A clearance of seven feet should be wide enough for most vehicles to pass through, but apparently, not for some. As these videos reveal, many drivers have a hard time navigating through a series of bollards installed on a section of the Woodmere Avenue in Watford, UK.

Back in 1980, the local government put a width restriction of seven feet on the Woodmere Avenue to prevent cars from “rat-running through the residential estate.” Over the decades this section of the road has seen numerous crashes executed by incompetent drivers attempting to rush through when careful driving was required. Countless vehicles have got stuck in between the bollards, some requiring the service of a digger to get free. Others have had their tires ripped off.

The width restriction on Woodmere Avenue. Photo: Google Street View

Understandably motorists are fed up with the width restriction, and so are the residents. Those who live right opposite the section have seen damage done to their walls, homes and cars. Some are calling on change before there's a major accident.

Strangely enough, there is a wider bus lane running adjacent to the width-restricted section, and many drivers simply pass through it rather than going through the bollards. 

“It’s just evil. People aren’t interested in taking their time anymore,” a local resident told HertsLive. “If you have someone going through it really slow everyone else just goes past and through the bus lane. If you get someone who’s being good, goes through the width restriction and then wants to turn right, someone just cuts through and past them from the bus lane. At some point there’s going to be a major accident."

Even Watford MP Dean Russell raised the issue in Parliament. “This is something that I have been working on for quite some time now, securing an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons and raising at Ministerial level,” he said. “It has been an issue in Watford for many years and whilst the road needs measures to stop it becoming a rat-run for large lorries, it is clear from the footage that the existing bollards are a hindrance to many drivers, you only need to look at the bollards and speak to local residents to know there have been many collisions.”

"I will continue to campaign for change to find a solution which ensures that drivers can navigate the restriction safely, but also ensures the road remains safe for pedestrians,” he said.

The Woodmere Avenue recently garnered media attention after videos of the crash became viral on the internet, all thanks to Tim Vigor, who installed the camera on his doorbell, right across the fateful intersection. Vigor has a Facebook page Woodmere Avenue width restriction where he posts videos of unfortunate encounters with the immovable bollards.

“I totally get why some people find it funny because it is not outside their house. I didn't want it to become a joke because I want the thing removed. I've had a few spats because people are saying the bollards are an inanimate object, which is true, but the whole design is wrong,” Vigor told Watford Observer. “Despite everything, this (going viral) has done more good than harm and it has certainly highlighted the issue. I'll be keeping the camera there until I'm told it's not allowed or if the width restriction is taken away.”

A car barely making through the restriction. Photo: Google Street View

In response to complaints, the executive member for highways, Cllr Stuart Pile issued a press statement blaming drivers for their misfortune:

The width restriction is clearly signposted both on Woodmere Avenue and on adjoining roads. Provided your vehicle isn't wider than seven feet, you can access the road. To put this in perspective, seven foot is wider than the entrance to a normal garage. Several thousand cars use this road on a daily basis without any problems so we have no plans to make changes to the posts on Woodmere Avenue unless local councillors ask, through the Joint Member Panel, for alterations to be made.

The Watford Borough Council also sniped at the motorists: “It is up to each driver, with the knowledge of their vehicle width and the advanced signage, to make a conscious decision on whether or not they have the confidence to go through. There are alternative routes to avoid the restriction.”

The Woodmere Avenue reminds me of the infamous can-opener bridge in Durham, North Carolina, where tall trucks routinely lose their top owning to the bridge’s short clearance.

[via Oddity Central]


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