Chaussée de Charleroi - light stuck on yellow - Jon Worth, CC
Chaussée de Charleroi - light stuck on yellow - Jon Worth, CC

Traffic light stuck on amber.

For 6 20 days solid*.

And no-one has done a thing.

A STIB tram passes this light every 10 minutes – it’s at the southern end of Chaussée de Charleroi. At least one police vehicle will have passed it each day. At least one person from the commune of St Gilles will have passed it each day. At least one person who works for the Bruxelles-Capitale region will have passed it each day. You see what I am getting at… je m’en fous, writ large.

I’ve now personally informed Bruxelles Mobilité about the issue – let’s see what happens.

In the UK there is a wonderful little site called Fix My Street to deal with things like this. You mark a cross on the map, and report potholes, broken traffic lights etc., and the system mails the relevant local authority… and about half of the issues get solved.

I suspect that things go a little deeper in Belgium – it’s more a need to Fix My State than it is the need to Fix My Street. For the hell of it I’ve bought and, just in case I have the energy for a bit of MySociety inspired social entrepreneurship in the Belgian capital.

(P.S. Just for a bit of added spice there was a van, illegally parked, with no hazard flashers on, parked beside the traffic light when I took the picture…)

* – first time I saw it was Monday 15th March, I’m writing this Saturday 20th March, and I’ve passed it on my bicycle at least once every day in between. It may be longer of course…

[UPDATE – 4.4.2010]
I’ve been away from Brussels for almost 2 weeks… and the traffic light is STILL on amber! Today is 4th April, so that means the light has been on amber for at least 20 days now. And I still don’t have any response to my e-mail from Bruxelles Mobilité.

[UPDATE 20.4.10]
The traffic light has now been turned off completely…


  1. Willem

    The Flemish state of Belgium launched a “Fix My Street” website last year and they always respond the same day or atleast the day after.

  2. I had a similar problem here in St Josse about a year ago. Basically the lights for pedestrians did not work at all for some time.

    When I decided to send an email to the communications person of the Commune St Josse I got an immediate answer that the problem has been forwarded and that the responsible person will still visit the place the same day in the afternoon. It was then fixed a few days later.

    A simple “report a problem” button on all Commune websites would do. Not many people will go to the contact page and try to find an appropriate contact person.

  3. Ciprian

    Well, the answer’s easy … it’s Belgium!:)
    For God’s sake, Jon, how long have u lived in Brussels?!? I’ve only been here for 6 months now, but the first thing I learn is – in this wonderful country, these things take time!:(

  4. @paolabrussels

    OMG, if site a site were launched in Belgium, it would crash within 5 minutes.

  5. elated

    Good luck…

    This place has been in a Baltimore/Detroit/Washington (yes!) state of decay for years. I remember when I lived there how I was abhorred by the people’s waste disposal habits… struck me as rather medieval… dumping stuff wherever whenever in whatever shape. I’ve written my fair share of letters, to no avail.

    Most of the local politics (and all of it at heart is local as these “ministers” all hold one ore more mandates at the level of the commune/gemeente, CPAS/OCMW, various intercomunales…) is about doling out jobs/money/housing to the clientelist base.

    I frankly do not believe this is going to end well now the recession is making money tight, likely for decades to come. The vicious comments by Thielemans are a sign of the kind of demagoguery to come.

  6. Automated response from Bruxelles Mobilité:


    Nous accusons bonne réception de votre message et vous répondons dès que possible. Si vous avez formulé une plainte relative à une situation problématique sur nos voiries, celle-ci est transmise à l’un de nos contrôleurs qui se chargera de vérifier la situation et y remédier le plus rapidement possible.


    Ce message n’engage aucunement Bruxelles Mobilité et reste informel. Tout courrier officiel doit toujours être confirmé par lettre et revêtu de la signature d’un agent dûment mandaté.

    We hebben uw bericht goed ontvangen en we doen er alles aan om u zo snel mogelijk een antwoord te sturen. Indien u een klacht heeft geformuleerd over de toestand van het wegennet, wordt deze onmiddellijk doorgestuurd naar een controleur die de situatie onderzoekt zodat het probleem zo snel mogelijk verholpen kan worden.

    Met vriendelijke groet

    Dit bericht houdt geen enkele verplichting in voor Mobiel Brussel en blijft informeel. Elk officieel bericht moet bevestigd worden met een brief die ondertekend is door een bevoegde ambtenaar.

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