Belgian traffic – The survival guide

Bwah. I am a Finn, meaning that I come from a country, where there are a total of three ring ways. One of which is only pretending. All of them are circling the capital area. In addition to these we have a few stretches of highways. But that is it. Not too bad to navigate. The Finnish road rage is also very confined and limited to silent murmuring. If you honk, the situation must be really, really bad.

Helsinki city – peak hour.

So, out of that background I moved to Belgium. A country famous for its notoriously heavy traffic.

I have had to learn how to survive here, on the roads. Especially morning peak hour, and here are the guidelines for that:

#1 Nerves.

Please take your nerves and stretch them. Then rip them apart and shove them somewhere in your trunk and start driving. You do nothing with patience and understanding out there on the roads. Instead you will need to be angry, aggressive and loud. Hatred is also recommended. Once arrived, take the nerves out of your trunk and place them where they should be.

#2 Balls.

You need a descent set of these. You need to realize that actually, it is you, and only you, who actually can drive. Everybody else is completely clueless about what they should be doing behind the wheel. You can let them know that fact. You, and your small car can push away trucks and pressure off people out of your way. You need the balls when you squeeze in between the lines of cars and drive that Twingo on the third lane, followed by 5 Audi’s and 6 BMW’s attached to your rear.

#3 Rage.

Immense amount of it. You will need to be able to gravely insult everybody. They can’t hear you but you damn right will yell at them. The yell is strengthened by a set of hand signals. If the situation is bad enough, you stop your car, on a highway, middle of it. You step out and you face that putain, lul, bastard, idiot, whatever, who was stupid enough to come in front of you or even push you! A special kind of rage is preserved for the moments, when someone dares to pass a queue using the emergency lane. Then you are allowed to go mental.

#4 Rain.

When it rains, it rains often btw, there will be two types of people on the road. One group is those who get afraid. They slow down, massively. The other group is those, who do not mind a bit about the rain. The visibility is down to 5 meters and there is half a meter of water covering the road. But no need to reduce the speed. These two groups of people meet every now and then, resulting into a nice collision and a jam. If you want to come out of the rain as a winner, the best solution might be just to drive voluntarily into a lamp post and wait for the whole ordeal to be over. I am not going to even mention snowfall. You can imagine.

#5 Trucks.

Belgium has a massive amount of trucks on its roads. There are couple of big harbors which bring in a lot of goods, which need to be transported to Germany, France and wherevernot in Europe. For that purpose they use trucks, quite some of them. They block about a third of almost all the highways. You will notice them especially, when you are passing the exit you were planning on taking, but there is a seamless wall of trucks in between you and the said exit, not willing to let you push through in between them. Also the trucks destroy roads. Belgian roads are in a terrible condition.

#6 Navigation.

After all this, you might want to get to the place, where you were planning on going, in a somewhat reasonable time span. That means, that you just cannot jump onto the closest highway and drive there. First you choose your weapons. Google maps, local traffic information, provided by Touring here in Belgium. Add the traffic reports from radio to this. You will soon have the realization, that there is no point in taking your car with you at all. So take a compass and walk.

#7 Roadworks.

During the summer months you will find plenty of ongoing roadwork sites. Except that nothing is happening at those places. Lanes can easily be closed 2 weeks prior and two weeks after the working is actually happening. And of course simple repairs take ages. It seems to be also a new kind of game, to build a deviation, so that people can get around of your working site. And then start working also on that deviation, simultaneously, this is repeated a few times until everybody is unable to leave a city they somehow managed to enter.

As a Finn, I am terrified almost all the time. There is no space anywhere and everybody is trying to ram you into somebody else. I am rather happy that Waffle is doing most of the driving.

Please do realize, that this is not, nor is it trying to be a completely accurate description of Belgians and their traffic behavior. It does contain exaggerations and is somewhat colored with my views. Please try to be entertained by it.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim Ritzen says:

    What do you mean, exaggerations? This sounds exactly like my life for about 2 hours every working day 🙂
    You know, city driving is possibly even worse than highway driving, I think you should try a study/survival trip to the center of Brussels at 5 PM, all kinds of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GoneHiking says:

      Well, have to say it is exaggerated, otherwise nobody will ever dare to come to Belgium! Brussels center peak hour. Hyrrrh, that will require some mental preparation. BTW did you check the activities on the road today? 😀 People, normally taking trains, were driving. Fun fun fun !

      Like

  2. thegreyeye says:

    Thanks for the atomium photo at night, I didn’t see that lighting

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GoneHiking says:

      You are welcome! 🙂

      Like

  3. Ninni says:

    My (Belgian) boyfriend showed me this post, I don’t think he really read it entirely because he doesn’t understand why I don’t want to drive in Belgium (I’m a Finn also), and if he read this he would understand! But it is super nice to find a site like this, I am planning on moving to Belgium next year, actually not far from where you are I think. 🙂 And thank you for this post, its spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GoneHiking says:

      First of all, you are very welcome! I am happy to hear, that you find my writings interesting! 🙂 If it helps, I can tell you, that the driving here gets easier with time, and after a while Finnish traffic will feel rather dull.

      I wish you also all the best with the moving, at least if you like to travel, Belgium is an excellent choice of location. Of course there is also more to Belgium than just that, but I am sure you already know 😉

      And say hi to your boyfriend! BTW there are surprisingly many Finnish-Belgian couples around, wonder why…

      – Veera

      Like

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