Five Measures to Solve Western Beijing’s Traffic Jams
April 12, 2005
Source: Beijing Youth Daily
Authors: Ding Ding, Wen Feng, Lu Fei
Experience has shown that the pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle needs of the Western District have not been met. Taking the Number 1 Zhongguancun Bridge as an example, its traffic capacity at the intersection during peak times is an amazing 15,000 motorized vehicles an hour, 12,000 non-motorized vehicles an hour, and 8,000 people an hour.
Personal Experience of Traffic Jams
Zhongguancun Western District
Left Hilon Electronics Market at around 5:30. Zhongguancun Street, the main section of North Fourth Ring, and the side roads were already filled with a crack cavalry like a long snake. Large and small vehicles with their lights on, honking horns without end.
There are 19 bus-stop signs in front of the Hilon Market: Yuntong, double-decker, air-conditioned, Bashi… and the vehicles are “stopped,” backed up at the bus-stop waiting for you. At 5:40 your reporter took his life in his hands to squeeze onto Yuntong 105, beginning a “slow” and long journey. Getting on a bus is not the same as hitting the road. It took the vehicle 7-8 minutes, and several intrepid “breakouts” to leave the bus-stop. Of course, the “next step” once leaving the bus-stop is the blockage outside the bus-stop.
I have known for a long time that traffic jams occur in Zhongguancun Western District, but I never thought it would reach the extent of a “horror show.” Not only automobiles but motorcycles and bicycles all trudged along. Automobiles, in order not to lose their “place in line,” all slam on the gas; in order to avoid the bicycles and pedestrians who dart into traffic, they also must frequently swerve and slam on the brakes.
The crowd inside the vehicle was in no way inferior to that outside the vehicle. Many of the passengers were workers from one of the several office buildings in Zhongguancun, as well as a good number of students finished with classes. The windows were locked and the air in the bus was feculent. Every person tried to contort their body into a more comfortable posture, but it was futile. Your reporter had no convenient handrail to grasp, but he never fell during the violent starts and stops--because there was no where to fall.
Whether it is long-term or immediate, everyone has desire. A green light at an intersection for smoother traffic flow should have been a wish. But during peak hours, this wish “doesn’t exist,” leaving people with only traffic jam and continued traffic jam. According to the ticket seller, it is the same every day: a few stops that take an hour to pass “is not strange in the least.” “Riding the bus is like fighting a war,” especially on Fridays. Jams have gone from a test of endurance to a double-headed challenge to one’s physical and mental health.
From Hilon to the People’s University Press, the vehicle’s speed was excruciatingly slow; from the East Gate of People’s University past the Sitong Bridge was even slower. From Zhongguancun to the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, a distance of less than 3 km, took from 5:40 to 6:20, an average of less than 5 km/hr. Pedestrians walk at an approximate speed of 6 km/hr.
Zhongguancuners Discuss Traffic Jams
Interviews conducted on December 17 at 10 am.
Interviews location: Dinghao Electronics Plaza, Hilon Electronics City, Carrefour Zhongguancun branch, and Zhongguancun bus-stop
It takes 20 minutes to go one stop
Mr. Chen (Hilon Electronics City salesperson): I usually take the bus to and from work, and traffic jams are common. Especially when getting off work, it usually takes twenty minutes to go one stop. Every day I spend a lot of time on the road to and from work. It pisses me off, but what can you do about it.
I’d rather walk than take the bus
Miss Xiao (People’s University student): I go to the Carrefour in Zhongguancun several times a week to buy things. The things I buy are very heavy to carry, but I would rather walk the distance of two bus-stops than take the bus. Waiting for the bus wastes time, and even if you catch the bus, it will still be caught in traffic. It is not as fast as walking. Although it tires me out to walk, at least I won’t get aggravated. I loathe traffic jams.
Riding a bike saves time
Ms. Liu (local resident): There were not so many tall buildings here before and traffic was much more convenient?traffic jams were rare. Nowadays, it is usual for traffic not to be jammed. At night, from the window of our house you can see the cars end-to-end, and no one moves. It vexes you just to look at it. Whenever our family leaves the house, we ride bikes if possible. We make every effort not to ride the bus in order to save time.
If there wasn’t traffic, business would be better
Mr. Xu (Dinghao Electronics Plaza businessman): Everything is great here in Zhongguancun. It’s just that traffic jams make people annoyed. Ordering stock and shipping stock has to be done at times other than peak hours, otherwise lots of time will be wasted on the roads. Customers who come to buy things will sometimes complain about traffic jams. I feel that if the road situation can be improved a little, more people will come to buy things and our business would be better than now.
The running time of buses has doubled
Miss Yu (bus ticket seller): When our bus reached Zhongguancun, there is a noticeable slowdown. There are too many buses, and they have to get in line to enter the bus-stop. The passengers are anxious which makes the driver and I even more anxious. Before it would take a little more than an hour for a round-trip run, but when traffic is jammed the worst it takes an extra hour, which certainly has an effect on our income.
Don’t go to Zhongguancun even though there is lots of business
Mr. Wang (taxi driver): Normally, Zhongguancun should be a very “busy” place. After all, there are many people working here and quite a few buy computers and need to hail cabs. But during peak hours of starting and getting off work, I avoid this place. I am afraid of being blocked in and not being able to get out. Making money is hard enough these days, so I need to make a few extra trips. I can’t afford the time wasted of traffic jams.
Get up even earlier to drive to work
Mr. Huang (company employee): I drive to work. Because of traffic jams, I get up very early to avoid the times when there are more vehicles on the road. I thought I would be able to save time by driving to work and be able to sleep a little longer. In actuality, I have to get up even earlier now. Many of my co-workers sympathize with me.