Talking Dutch: End of the road


Fed up with middle-lane drivers, it looks as though the authorities are taking drastic measures to solve the problem: just get rid of the slow lane, since nobody ever uses it anyway

Derek Blyth on life in the wrong lane

You’ll know the problem if you’ve ever driven on a motorway in Belgium. The slow lane is always virtually empty because drivers cling to the middle lane. It’s something that irritates a lot of people.

So now it looks like the Flemish government has come up with an original solution – it placed an ad this month on the secondhand website Te koop – For sale, it says, nauwelijks gebruikt – Hardly used: rechterrijstrook – the right-hand lane.

And in case you’re interested in putting in an offer – Prijs o.t.k. (The initials OTK, which often appear in small ads, stand for overeen te komen – to be agreed.)

It seems like the government has reached the end of its tether. Uit pure frustratie – Out of pure frustration, the ad explains, verkoopt de Vlaamse overheid alle rechtse rijstroken – the Flemish government is selling off all the slow lanes die op haar grondgebied gelegen zijn – in its territory. 

Geen hond die de rechtse rijstrook gebruikt – No one (literally “not one dog”) is using the slow lane, the ad grumbles, en geld om te sensibiliseren is er toch niet – and there’s no money to run an information campaign.

But would the government really place such an ad? A link included in the ad goes to a private Facebook page that announces snelheidscontroles – speed traps. 

The ad, it turns out, was just placed by some frustrated citizen. As Het Laatste Nieuws explains, right lane avoidance is one of Flemish drivers’ pet peeves.

Prime real estate

Volgens het verkeersreglement – According to traffic regulations, the paper writes, moeten bestuurders wel degelijk op de rechterrijstrook rijden – drivers must stay in the right-hand lane als ze niemand inhalen – if they are not overtaking anyone.

Back to the ad: Met het afschaffen van de rechtse rijstrook – By abolishing the slow lane hoopt de wegbeheerder het probleem van de linksrijders ook voorgoed op te lossen – the transport department hopes that it can finally eliminate the problem of drivers who stick to the fast lane. 

En dus gaan alle rechtse rijstroken op Vlaams grondgebied onder de hamer – And so all the slow lanes in Flanders are up for sale.

That’s a lot of prime real estate, the ad points out. De overheid verwacht dan ook dat de verkoop verschillende miljoenen zal opbrengen – The government expects that the sell-off will raise several million (euro). Dat geld wil ze gebruiken om het gat in de begroting te vullen – The money will be used to fill the hole in the budget en hier en daar ook een gat in de weg – and also here and there a hole in the road. Op de linkse rijstrook – in the fast lane, wel te verstaan – of course.

So please pull over into the slow lane while you still have the chance.

Photo: Ingimage