Woodmere Avenue: Britain’s infamous width restriction ruins cars

Seven feet of clearance should be enough for most vehicles to pass through, but apparently not for some. As these videos show, many drivers have a hard time navigating through a series of boulders set up on a stretch of Woodmere Avenue in Watford, UK.

Back in 1980, the local government banned a width of seven feet on Woodmere Avenue to prevent cars from “rat-walking through residential property.” Over the decades this stretch of road has been subject to numerous accidents by incompetent drivers attempting to escape when careful driving is required. There are countless vehicles stuck between the bollards, some requiring the service of an excavator to break free. Others’ tires have burst.

Width restriction on Woodmere Avenue. Photo: Google Street View

Understandably, motorists are fed up with width restrictions, and so are residents. People who live right in front of the block have seen damage to their walls, houses and cars. Some people are demanding change before the big accident happens.

Oddly, there is a wide bus lane running around the width-restricted section, and many drivers simply pass through it instead of going through the boulder.

“It’s just evil. People are no longer interested in taking their time,” said a local resident Heartslive, ,If you have someone who is passing really slow then everyone else just goes past and through the bus lane. If you find someone who is good, goes through the width restriction and then wants to turn right, someone cuts him off the bus lane and leaves him behind. Sometime there is going to be a big accident.”

Even Watford MP Dean Russell raised the issue in Parliament. “It’s something I’ve been working on for some time now, getting an adjournment debate in the House of Commons and raising it at the ministerial level,” he said. “This has been an issue at Watford for many years and while measures are needed to prevent the road from becoming rat-run for large lorries, it is clear from the footage that the existing boulders are an obstacle for many drivers, All you need to do is look at the bollards and talk to local residents to see if there have been multiple collisions.”

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

Woodmere Avenue recently garnered media attention after video of the accident went viral on the Internet, thanks to Tim Vigor, who installed the camera on his door, right at that horrific intersection. Vigor has a Facebook Page Woodmere Avenue Width Restrictions where he posts videos of unfortunate encounters with the immovable Bollard.

“I totally know why some people find it weird because it’s not outside their house. I didn’t want it to become a joke because I want this thing to go away. I have some controversies because people Saying that the bollard is an inanimate object is true, but the whole design is wrong,” said Jor. Watford Observer, “Despite everything, it (going viral) has done more good than harm and it has definitely highlighted the issue. I’ll keep the camera there until I’m told it’s not allowed or if the width restriction is lifted.

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A car is barely making it through the ban. Photo: Google Street View

In response to the complaints, Clerk Stuart Pyle, Executive Member of the Highways, issued a press statement blaming the drivers for their misfortunes:

Width restrictions are clearly marked on Woodmere Avenue and surrounding streets. Provided your vehicle is no wider than seven feet, you can access the road. To put this in perspective, the entrance to the typical garage is seven feet wider. Several thousand cars use this road on a daily basis with no problems, so we have no plans to change the designation on Woodmere Avenue unless local councilors ask to make changes through a joint member panel. Huh.

Watford Borough Council also quipped at motorists: “It is up to each driver, with knowledge of their vehicle’s width and advanced signage, to make a conscious decision about whether they have the confidence to go through the restrictions. There are alternate routes to escape.”

Woodmere Avenue reminds me of Notorious Cane-Opener Bridge in Durham, North Carolina, where tall trucks regularly lose their tops due to low bridge clearance.

[via Oddity Central]

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