Tag Archives: freeways

The Emergency Lane in Switzerland and in China

We were unwillingly forced onto the emergency lane today on the eastern 5th Ring Road in Beijing, after a massive traffic jam broke out. Cars and lorries broke down or had issues on the wrong lanes, thus forcing us to the lane usually reserved only for rescue vehicles or police cars…

Beijing traffic needs no description. A potential candidate for the 10th wonder of the world (how many candidates outside of the 7th do we already have?…), it’s chronic, and I was very surprised when a very ontime @vista turned up at the airport for an airport meetup. (We met last time in Taiwan a year ago. Tracy wants to go there really bad!) @vista is well known in especially the Taiwanese and Chinese-language IT world as a tech “big”.

A recent article in Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger shows Geneva at a loss to control cars: they had to let vehicles legally use the emergency lane during especially morning rush hours. That’s bad news, because they had to expand it and accommodate super-heavy trucks. What used to be pristine territory on the roads is now crying in pain — “thanks” to overladen lorries.

Attitudes to the emergency lane does vary a bit between the two nations. In China, they’re used come hell or high water. In Switzerland, the legal use of these lanes is seen as a gift from the gods…

However, there’s a way to get rid of these lanes: build a rail link not far away. Sadly, today, I’ve heard some pretty disappointing rail news here in China (which I’ll share a bit later), but if there’s a way to stop these jams on the roads, I’m all for it.

I’m also for keeping the emergency lane as-is. Emergencies “just happen”. The last thing a person on the verge of totally passing out needs is some random truck keeping him from the hospital that just might save his soul..

EVEN MORE Freeways for Beijing…

This city continues to surprise me in terms of how fast things grow. Fresh for a Monday morning, I’m hearing brand-new freeways such as a completely new freeway through western Beijing’s Mentougou District running alongside National Highway 109 (Beijing-Lhasa). (That thing cuts through all the mountains you could take in western Beijing.)

I’ve travelled the whole length of that highway up to the Kongjian junction just ouside Beijing, so I know how challenging that part of the highway can be. The worst is yours after Xiaolongmen (小龍門), when you encounter loads of curves on hilly terrain along with trucks parked halfway through. (And you wonder, all of a sudden, if you’re in France.)

(Or not.)

Another fair bit of relief is a brand-new second freeway from Beijing to the northeastern suburbs in Miyun. I also hear reports that we might hit upon a parallel freeway to the present-day G1 (Beijing-Harbin) freeway, as that one, as I’ve seen in a recent test drive, is a true nightmare especially at night, when trucks make your life hell.

I sort of can’t wait until late 2015, when there’ll be a “3+12″ freeway system around Beijing (3 orbitals, 12 non-orbital freeways). Of course, I’m looking for cooler things still in the rail world.

Like the Beijing-Kowloon HSR… man do I want that!