I often take the road Maurice-Lemonier in Brussels, from my home in St-Gilles, by the Gare du Midi and towards the city centre. As I turn from Boulevard du Midi onto Maurice-Lemonier, it seems that something is off. Maurice-Lemonier is a street disguised as a road. It is a large boulevard taken by cars to access the city center or cross the city, with bus lanes and entrances to the metro and the tram system. However, it is also a neighbourhood, the environment of a large number of Brussels residents. It is a mostly Moroccan neighbourhood, with plenty of cafés and shops, and people entering, exiting and standing together throughout the day. I often see people jay-walking (although I dislike the term), from one side of the street to the other, not using the crosswalks or waiting for the light to turn. This road, a large arterial created in the Haussman-style to bring traffic into and out of the city, cuts the neighbourhood in half, with crosswalks more than 100m apart. The result? Most residents simply cut across the street when they see a break in the traffic and, not expecting a bicycle, I startle them as I ring my bell and swerve to avoid them.
A Street Disguised as a Road: Boulevard Maurice-Lemonier