Beijing’s Traffic Madness Set to Worsen

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Back to Aug 21, 2010, I posted that Beijing had scored the world’s highest rating, with traffic five times worse than Los Angeles.

Now comes this news, reported yesterday in the People’s Daily: “Average driving speeds in the Chinese capital will likely drop below 15 km per hour in five years if the number of vehicles continues increasing while no further measures are taken.”

The article claimed Beijing’s car fleet grew by a staggering average of 1,900 cars a day in the first half of 2010, which means the capital will have around 7 million cars by 2015 if the current growth rate continues. According to the Wall Street Journal, the city’s roads have a maximum capacity of 6.7 million vehicles.

In what may be a sign of things to come for Beijing, a traffic jam along National Expressway 110 (G110) between Beijing and Inner Mongolia entered its eleventh day yesterday according to The Guardian. Jonathan Watts reported:

“The Chinese authorities are struggling to clear the congestion, now entering its eleventh day and which, at its peak, stretched for more than 60 miles (100km). But the drivers still joining it are not optimistic about reaching their destinations swiftly.

‘I have not moved for five hours,’ said Zhang Xingping, 27, standing outside his cab near a road traffic sign mockingly warning him to obey the 100km per hour speed limit.”

Xinhua reported earlier this week that the congestion has been caused by a combination of increased coal truck traffic and road works to repair damage caused by the heavy vehicles.

Trucks have reportedly been caught in the jam for days at a time, allowing villagers along the route to make a handsome profit selling overpriced instant noodles and bottles of water to the hapless drivers.