Luxembourg to fell roadside trees in a bid to improve road safety.
Along with mountain passes and coast roads, tree-lined avenues must rate high on the wish lists of many touring drivers.
Beautiful they may be but they are also downright dangerous.
Germany cottoned on to this quite early on with the first autobahns.
Originally conceived as a safety measure – to shield the road from wind and snow, in the centre line to protect against glare from on-coming vehicles, and to provide the driver with advance sight lines –it soon became clear that trees near the carriageway were anything but safe, especially as vehicle speeds increased.
By the 1960s, roadside trees were identified as the number one driving hazard and 175,000 trees were cut down in Bavaria alone according to Thomas Zeller’s exhaustive ‘Driving Germany, The Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930-1970.’
Other countries have taken longer to catch on. Tree-lined sections are still a regular feature along France’s Route Nationales, for instance, and in Balkan countries where the trunks are painted with reflective white rings as a makeshift alternative to street lights at night.
Luxembourg has a long tradition of roadside planting too. The north of the country particularly has endless miles of attractive country roads flanked by lines of well-maintained mature trees.
In recent years however, they have become too closely associated with the country’s struggle to improve road safety. Last week, Infrastructure Minister Francois Bausch finally announced that trees will be removed from alongside a number of roads in the Duchy according to wort.lu.
All is not completely lost but it will take years for the roads to be restored to their former glory. The roadsides will be re-planted albeit at a safer distance from the carriageway with a barrier in between.
Meanwhile, it’s surely only a matter of time before France’s famous tree-lined avenues find themselves under the microscope too. French motorways might be among the safest in the world but secondary road accidents drag the country down to just above the European average overall.
As with everything pleasurable about driving on Continent, you have to enjoy it while you still can.