It was neighbourhood officer Gert Vandekerkhof, who hit on the idea. He decided to place a cardboard cut-out of himself by the wayside at the start of a Zone 30. Vandekerkhof stands by the zebra crossing outside the school every day. He helps the children cross safely. “I was looking for a way of getting motorists to take their foot off the gas even before they approach the school” he told VRT. When drivers see a police officer, it has an impact, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. That’s why I hit on the idea of placing a cardboard cut-out of myself a couple of hundred metres earlier in the street. The result has been tremendously positive. People tell me it’s a nice initiative and drivers are moderating their speed.”
The police acknowledge the cut-out may only have a temporary effect.
“We don’t intend to have a cardboard cut-out of me there on a permanent basis. The impact would soon tail off” says Gert Vandekerkhof, but his boss is full of admiration.
“It’s a great initiative” says local police chief Alain Meerts. ”I applaud it! It’s too early to say whether we will repeat it at other locations, but the effect this experiment is having is extremely promising”.