What Happens When A Car Gets Stuck In Those Impossibly-Narrow European Streets?

You know how in a lot of European cities there are places where some streets are only a meter or so wide? What happens when a car gets stuck – such as by a lost traveler, someone who thought they could make it but couldn’t, etc.? Obviously there’s no getting a tow truck in there.

It might not happen all that often as there are bound to be locals in the area who will call you out and prevent your access with a very deliberate and energetic finger wag :point_up:t2:

But using tow straps one could pull it out of a tight spot?

Many places i’m familiar with will block the road off with a few bollards well before the squeeze zone. But logically if car can get into a place so narrow it is trapped it should be possible to get a tow vehicle behind it on the route in. A serious tow might destroy the paint job, transmission and driver’s savoir faire but would provide enormous enjoyment to locals, so its not all bad.

I’m not seeing the problem. If you can drive in, you can reverse out.

Not if you’re wedged in.

Europe is a strange place, it’s like the Minecraft Nether of roads, with unmarked dropoffs and yes very narrow passages and lanes. They seem to do better then us however. I would assume that a cable can be hooked to the car and pulled out. I’m sure it happens but from what I see there not that often.

I’ve never heard of this happening, bar drivers of huge delivery lorries blindly trusting their satnav and finding themselves on a wholly unsuitable road.

Most places with very narrow lanes will have had traffic management plans for years, with pedestrian-only zones, one-way streets and warning signs if there’s a very narrow bit ahead.

Part of learning to drive is looking where you’re going, judging when you have enough space and so not getting stuck in the first place, surely?

I live in Europe. I have traveled extensively and never seen a car stuck in a narrow road anywhere.

If you follow the signs it can never happen.

The closest I’ve come to hearing of something like that was some idiot which followed GPS instructions disregarding the actual temporary “Do Not Pass (unless you need access to one of the garages)” signs. When he found himself blocked, instead of turning around as a normal human being would have done (the street is two-ways and since it was empty except for him, easy to turn around in), he…
… went down a flight of stairs.
To a kiddie park whose only entry or exit route is the stairs themselves. OOPSIES!

I understand the car eventually got towed out, but the driver is also being charged with everything the cops and judge could find in the Road Code.

Reminds me of a story a friend in Sydney (Aus) told me about the local suburban railway station, over which a major shopping centre had been built, with a large station concourse just below street level, but over the tracks. Shortly after it all opened, an archetypal “little old lady” surprised everyone by driving down the stairs from the street and round and round the concourse, apparently under the impression it was the car park. When they asked her if she hadn’t noticed the stairs she supposedly said “It did seem a bit bumpy.”

It’s not just Europe. New York state has a big problem of trucks blindly following GPS.

New York has its parkways, which all have low clearances – too low for trucks. But GPS doesn’t take that into account and trucks are directed into them. Even if they don’t get stuck, it takes time to back them up.

They’ve been adding new signs and painting “Low bridge! Exit now!” on the roadway.

Maybe we’re imagining different scenarios, but I’m with @UDS1, if you can drive in you should be able to back out (with some damage & scrapes and a lesson in humility).

I’m struggling to imagine your scenario of a driver turning down narrower and narrower streets / lanes to the point where their car no longer fits down one, and then they continue to drive until they’ve completely physically wedged their car between two buildings?

It’s got to be an extreme case where someone would continue to drive past the point where they could no longer open either car door and exit safely and keep going until the point their vehicle was so wedged they couldn’t physically / mechanically back it out.

But I concede that maybe I have too much faith in humanity and your scenario does happen [Lord knows 2020 has been a great lesson in humanity and what we are incapable of}. However in that case the bigger question is how do they get out of the car? I assume someone would have to smash the front or rear window?

It becomes a national landmark.

Tow trucks, both flat beds and the ones that just lift the front or rear wheels off the ground, can hook their cable up to the stuck car, from a distance, and winch it out until they can grab it.
Same way they can right a flipped car or pull it out of a ditch.

My cousin had just dropped off a load of produce at the Brooklyn Terminal Market and decided he wanted to see Coney Island. He ended up getting stuck on a narrow street. He said that it seemed like everyone on the block came out and helped him extricate himself. That changed his preconceived notions about New Yorkers.

It would be quite easy to have a situation where, say, in a front wheel drive car, you sort of scrape around a corner, forcing the rear wheels to skid outwards from the corner, and end up in a situation where no amount of simple reversing will undo it.

To get so stuck you can’t back out you have to be moving faster than most people approach any sort of street where there’s a risk of at least getting your wing mirrors scratched.

Which is probably why the only city I know of where there is a term (storrowed) for getting a vehicle stuck (or wrecked) is Boston, and that is about not paying attention to height while driving a rented moving truck.

I spent a week in Granada, Spain last year, and some of the narrow and winding lanes in the Albaicin area are just unbelievable in terms of how tight they are, and yet you find cars going along them. You have to step up into someone’s doorway to allow the vehicles past.

Here is an example: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.1777972,-3.5949868,3a,86.3y,315.72h,87.24t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sHQwmNuZd7Sk0LLphv7169w!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
Have a look around that little area and observe that there is only one way in (actually, two, but one has stairs), and it’s very narrow. Look closer at the side of the gold coloured car. How do you imagine that happened?
Take a look at the deep grooves in the wall in this location: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.1796141,-3.5924917,3a,75y,123.4h,84.82t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sCIxRgLj08mJGK9FT_l8B7Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
Here’s the same location as you might see it when approaching in a vehicle (cars do actually drive down there*): https://www.google.com/maps/@37.1796569,-3.5923817,3a,75y,250.27h,75.21t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxsRb-p7dGd8KDYzlJMl97g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

*I know, because this was the route taken by our Uber driver who took us to the bus station. He stopped and pulled in his wing mirrors before (fairly) carefully driving through that gap. Not everyone is so careful.

I imagine what happens in the case of a car that has just maneuvered itself into a spot where it can’t back out is that a bunch of burly local men roll up their sleeves and manhandle it back out. In the case of a vehicle actually wedged tight between two walls, someone is going to have to tow it out.

With a little car and some big burly blokes, however, you could probably jiggle it round by hand enough to get it out.

Some students at my (Australian) college once infamously managed to get someone’s Mini outside his bedroom door like that. No driving involved.

ETA: ok, your last post definitely Ninja’d me, and we’ll just ignore the fact that it was a full 3 hours earlier, right??

Yeah, I recall seeing people play jokes where a bunch of lads would bounce a small car sideways into an alley or between two bollards in such a way as it could not be driven out.