A Belgian Eye – Episode 105

Our resident Belgian Philippe Persoons takes a look at life through A Belgian Eye.

Did you know that one on four Belgian don’t know how to zip? you do now . . . . . . . . . .



Did you know that one on four Belgian don’t know how to zip? No It’s not about open trousers slit, buttons on their pants or that they wear skirts, no I’m talking about zipping in traffic. Zipping in traffic became mandatory in Belgium exactly one year ago and still adrenaline of many drivers confronted with a zipper increases.

First of all, what is that zipping stuff?

Zipping is a way for merging traffic into a reduced number of lanes. Drivers in merging lanes are expected to use both lanes to advance to the lane reduction point and merge at that location, alternating turns.

People tend to use the ‘early merge method’: Ow, I see all Is coming to one lane some kilometres further, so I urgently need to get in that lane, so I can wait my turn in a courteous way. That is the civilised way, they think. Contrary to that Johnny with his spoilered BMW A4 AMG, speeding up until the end.

Sorry to say, but in Belgium our Johnny is the right guy, abiding the law. Ok you don’t need to speed up, but it’s not permitted to claim the ‘early merge method’ either. Here in Belgium we are obliged to go by the ‘late merge method’, which is to zip in the end. Check it out on Wiki. You should:

First of all, all must continue as long as possible both lanes;

Second, at about 300 meters before the bottleneck adjust to the speed of traffic on the lane next to you;

Then, those on that adjacent lane must make room for those that have to merge;

And finally, at about 50 meters before the bottleneck, all can merge without braking or disturbance.

Some assume that the late merge method increases throughput. But more important is that it considerably reduces queue length because both lanes are in use until the end. Last but not least the speed differences between the two lanes become lower, or even non-existent, which decreases lane change in the queue. Less lane change means less collisions and thus less traffic jam.

At the other hand, drivers who change lanes too early don’t like to see other drivers continue until the end of the drop-away lane. It’s rude to jump the cue, he shouldn’t cut in line, I won’t let him pass, he takes my place…. Sentiments of frustration and aggression and sometimes collisions are the outcome.

So in Belgium, and also Germany, you must zip. there is a penalty of 55 euros for those who violate the rule. We had campaigns to promote it. But still a quarter of the Belgians can’t explain the rule and if you check it on the road, even less drivers live by the rule.

So if you see a mad Belgian driver on the road, then perhaps he was just ignorant on the ‘late merge method’ rule and thus zipping in the wrong way. Please excuse him, be gentle, be tolerate

For he probably didn’t knew better.

Belgian drivers, sometimes smart, sometimes not smart enough

Always keep on smiling and

Have a nice day!