Brazil through gringo-eyes: The mother of all traffic jams

30 Jul

kristof

by Kristof

Yes, the traffic situation in Florianópolis could use some improvement, to say the least. Most of the important transit roads between the various areas of the city are narrow, often with only one lane in each direction. On top of that, there are little or no alternative roads you can use when traffic on the main road is getting exceptionally bad. The city’s population has been booming in the last decade, especially with those gringos moving in from all over the world and ruining the place for us manezinhos. The transit system is not built to deal with this kind of population growth, which results in a lot of traffic-related frustration.

It may be a small consolation, but things can always be worse. Traffic in my own home country isn’t too great either: roads are often in a poor state, various long-lasting road works and deviations can turn your morning commute or a simple trip for an afternoon of shopping into an ordeal that will leave you stressed and frustrated. The ring road around Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city has been a problem area for decades. With several highways coming together, it’s a major traffic hub for Belgium and neighboring countries and the road just doesn’t have the capacity to handle the flood of cars and trucks during peak hours. Add this to the fact that the ring isn’t actually complete (it’s open on 1 side!) and it makes the whole thing a bit shameful.

antwerp

A few weeks ago, however, things really got out of hand. It was a long weekend with some sunny weather predictions, so it was an ideal weekend for a trip with the family. The already existing problems combined with the increased traffic and road works – that were inexplicably done during the day, instead of at night – that closed off 3 of the 4 lanes, created the perfect storm of traffic chaos. Many tourists from the Netherlands and Germany as well as Belgium had to pass by Antwerp on their way to the coast or other holiday destinations and ended up stranded in traffic for up to 3(!) hours. As the day progressed, people started to become dehydrated. Some started to feel unwell or even faint. Emergency services were called and ambulances were sent to help the people in need. The Red Cross also tried to distribute water. Tried, because even that went wrong: As more and more cars joined the traffic jam, people found nothing better, but to use the emergency lanes, effectively blocking them for the emergency vehicles they are meant for. It was reported that it took an ambulance almost 45 minutes to reach a person in need.

So, you can see a bit of slow traffic on Beira-Mar Norte isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Next time you’re in stuck traffic in Florianópolis, try not to get wound up too much, but instead remember this heartwarming story and sigh with relief that you’re not stranded for half a day on your way to some relaxing destination, with your whole family crammed into hot and small car, while your children are complaining that they’re hungry and thirsty and your grandmother starting to feel faint and you have to wait 45 minutes for anyone to come give her some water, because the car next to you decided it was ok for him to use the emergency lane. And if that’s not enough to relax you, you can turn your head 90 degrees and take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sunset behind the mountains on the continent.

sun

 

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