Parking Problems

By alison - February 16, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

At 7:30 this morning, the doorbell rang. Luckily it was one of the few days that Andrew was already up and heading in to the office. (Lately he’s been working from home late into the evening so the mornings haven’t been quite so early.)

When he opened the door, a police officer was standing there to greet him. Unless you are waiting for residency, it’s usually not a great feeling to open your door and see a cop. All of the bad things you have ever done in your life go rushing through you brain and you wonder if they finally caught up with you for drag racing in High School… not that I ever did that Mom… you know, just hypothetically speaking…

The officer pleasantly informed Andrew that he would have to move his car or face a 150€ fine. The car had been parked on the sidewalk.

For a bit of background, we do have a garage. It’s small and our car is a boat. When you close the garage door there is about 5cm to spare. The garage opens on to the sidewalk and there is quite a lip between the sidewalk and the road. Frankly it’s a real pain in the @ss to get in and out. Andrew usually does put the car in the garage overnight, but, if there is a chance of us going out somewhere, to avoid hassle, he leaves it on the street. He’s been doing this for nine months.

Our street, like many Belgian roads, is just big enough for two way traffic (there are two way roads here that aren’t… seriously; one or both cars have to drive on the sidewalk to pass). There are no designated parking spots, but you are allowed to park on the street. I’ve talked before about how they plant trees in the street here to slow traffic. They use parked cars in the same way, (I think this is why you aren’t allowed to park on the sidewalk).

Now I can understand why parking on the sidewalk would be bad – pedestrians and bikes would have to go around etc. However, the car doesn’t take up the whole sidewalk. There is plenty of room to get around. Moreover, the sidewalk ends immediately after our garage. That’s right… no more sidewalk. So pedestrians either have to walk on the street anyway or cross to the other side of the road.

But, that’s Belgium for you. That will teach Andrew to try to be polite to other motorists.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
I loved my time in Riga, Latvia a few years ago and Adi's post takes me right back. It's a European travel... - 3 hours ago


  1. Comment by Alison

    Alison February 16, 2006 at 13:52

    I’ve seen you j-walk … you’re next 😉

  2. Comment by Di

    Di February 16, 2006 at 13:14

    Hehehehe, they got you … although at least yours didn’t escalate to my threatened 12 hours in jail for not carrying any form of identification.
    Whisper: I’ve been feeding the pigeons oops, I mean birds on my balcony, apparently that’s a 50euro fine. Shall we race and see who gets the next telling off?

  3. Comment by Miss Jay

    Miss Jay February 17, 2006 at 02:30

    I just love crazy laws when they affect other people and not me!

  4. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler February 20, 2006 at 04:09

    Hey Allison – thanks for pointing me to the right blog address (well the more readily updated one that is). I so know how you feel with the car parking situation. We live on a street where you have to pay to park. We have to pay to get a permit so we don’t get ticketed. Since I’m not a permanent resident yet (it doesn’t matter that my husband is), I have to pull a lot of strings to get things done sometimes. I’m sort of in that predicament for the car I drive (it’s not mine). So yes that parking burden is always lying over my head too!

  5. Comment by Alison

    Alison February 20, 2006 at 12:51

    Hey Expat, thanks for stopping by. Parking can be a pain anywhere I guess. At least we don’t have to pay to park in the street here. Parking in Brussels itself can be a bit of a trick but it’s not half as bad as Amsterdam was!

  6. Pingback: In Which Our Parked Car Causes an Accident | CheeseWeb

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