A tight width restriction in Watford looks to be causing at least a few crashes a month
Drivers: Why do cyclists need segregated lanes?
Also drivers: pic.twitter.com/XLIJN88kqJ
— Kentish Town LTN (@KentishTownLTN) October 12, 2021
As astutely pointed out on a Reddit thread that amassed over 300 comments in the space of a day, this seems to be Britain’s answer to the dreaded 11-foot-eight-inch bridge. It’s a width restriction on Woodmere Avenue in Watford which is flanked by multiple bollards, and just like that YouTube-infamous ‘can-opener’ bridge North Carolina, this perilous piece of road furniture near London has achieved viral Internet stardom.
Captured on a doorbell camera, numerous drivers have been caught out by the restriction on the side of the road heading towards the A41. Many of the vehicles to have fallen victim – one of which was a police van – can be seen launching onto two wheels and sustaining hefty damage.
The Woodmere Avenue width restriction even has its own Facebook group which had well over 700 members at the time of writing, with regular updates from Tim Vigor, who appears to live at the adjacent property where the ‘action’ is captured on camera. The footage he’s posted shows crashes occurring both at higher speeds and walking pace.
It’d be easy to point the finger at the drivers and call them a bunch of idiots, given that early on we see a van breezing through with no issues, followed by a much smaller vehicle clanging into one of the bollards. However, viewing the restriction on Google Street View, you can see just how little room for error there is. The main issue is said to concern the first bollard on the left.
When shown some of the collisions by The Watford Oberver, Neil Greig of road safety charity IAM RoadSmart dubbed the width restriction “not fit for purpose”. He added:
“The lack of distinctive markings on the [first left] post and the slight curve of the pavement, along with the dropped kerb as you approach the width restrictions, allows you to position onto the pavement (without realising it) which is all making a confusing situation worse.”
Council officers visited the site on 21 September to have discussions with residents, and according to Mr Vigor, the group witnessed one car picking up a dent. Another driver was seen struggling to get a Range Rover Velar through.
The restriction was first installed in 1980, updated about 10 years ago to incorporate an extra set of bollards. A council spokesperson told The Watford Observer prior to the 21 September visit, “drivers do have to take responsibility for knowing the width of their vehicle and navigating the restriction at a safe speed” and that the feature “does not meet the criteria for inclusion in our safety engineering programme”.
Changes could well be made further down the line, however. Councillor Stephen Cavinder says he “will keep pressing for a solution to this very concerning issue”. This may involve ripping out the physical restriction and using ANPR cameras to deter drivers of larger vehicles from passing through. For now, though, the prangs will continue.