Tag Archives: traffic

Streets of Rural Beijing

Ausländer im eigenen Inland? Why Beijing’s New Traffic Rules Compound Problems

The city of Beijing is promulgating two new regulations on the roads:—

  • Only cars with Beijing plates, as well as authorised, registered cars from elsewhere, may enter Beijing inside the 6th Ring Road (although they may use the 6th Ring itself, mainly for transit);
  • Long-term licences for cars from outside of Beijing will no longer be issued.

Its rationale: We need to keep the city to ourselves… we need to give Beijing cars priority in Beijing… so there!

And to that new rule I say: #FAIL. This is the typical knee-jerk reaction one expects from .gov.anywhere… EU citizens “overpopulate” Switzerland (are they not afforded “freedom of movement”?), so the Swiss go to the polls and literally votes them out (killer immigrant quotas to come); Beijing’s traffic gets awful, so City Hall goes and starts hurrying non-Beijing cars away from the centre of town.

Never before were you an alien in one’s own country. Or as the German would say, Ausländer im eigenen Inland. This is “logic” that defies logic.

It’s probably no secret much of the planet isn’t having its best days as of late. But rather than to exclude, we can elect to include

Include Tianjin and Hebei, nearby cities / provinces to Beijing, when you grow. Now the “CCP old guard” way to grow is to chuck the surrounding provinces all heavy industry. Great, so their people are polluted way further. (The next bit, then, is to throw them out to He’nan — a province already badly strangled in China when it comes to the image / inhabitants — He’nan people are on a lot of people’s “s**tlist” just for being He’nan people.) The new way, then, would be to dismantle or redo heavy industry, and spread them to parts near you (but outside of the Jing) so that they can both exist and no-one’s really gonna get hurt in all this.

Include the immigrants in your society and let them become you. If foreigners must be “foreign criminals”, that’s a Swiss fault as much as it is a foreign fault. The new way, then, would be to educate them better. Invest in the education of their home countries, so that they already know how to be better civilised before they move in.

To randomly exclude and to discriminate only makes an already bad situation worse. To be more inclusive towards all would make things much better.

Smog, Beijing

Ack… That Beijing Smog…

As of late, the city of Beijing is close to being stuck in smog for just around a week. In comparison to what usually happens next month (March), smog appears to be no competition for that. (In March, sand storms invade the city; in spring 2002, the skies appeared close to being orangeamplified to shiny orange when viewed from tinted windows!)

For the longest of all times, I thought when Beijing’s Subway services broke the length of the underground system in London, we’d get our traffic jams solved. For the longest time, I thought the magic transit elixir was the new Subway Line 6, which runs parallel to Line 1.

Yes, Line 6 was a welcome addition, and the inclusion of the city’s West Railway Station into the Subway system was a much-needed move, but so far, we are not seeing the city being rid of smog. In contrast, things appear to be far worse. The folks running the city (headed by Guo Jinlong and Co) seem to have made the city far more polluted than under the previous administrations (Liu Qi and the especially frank Wang Qishan). In essence, policies have been enacted which simply do not compute. For example:—

  • Instead of slapping either a unitary or a zone-based congestion charge for the city area inside at least the 5th Ring, road rationing codes were instituted — and nothing was really done in earnest about limiting car use!
  • Instead of letting you bid for plates for new cars (to be registered under an increasingly more “powerful” Beijing plate), you had to be enrolled in a rather-difficult-to-win lottery. What use are free licence plates if you have to wait for at least two years on average to “win” one?
  • Instead of instituting mile-based fares (along with discounts for off-peak hour travel) on the Beijing Subway, they’re still using that ¥2.—/ride formula. It works, but it also makes Subway trains much more cramped for space.
  • Instead of building up New Cities around the eastern and northeastern part of the municipality (in the suburbs, which now have mostly towers with few people resident there), we’re seeing more towers inside the major ringways. And it’s not pretty by any account.

City Hall might want to get a clue — and take a cue from other cities that are doing it right. London’s Congestion Charging might want to be the first thing Guo & Gang may want to ape. There’s also the 9 o’clock reduced fare / flat fare rates for city transport that Zurich implements — Beijing might also want to try that on for size. Finally, we might take our cue from Paris. When travelling with my sweetheart for life, Tracy, I noticed the presence of a few power plugs for cars in the 13th arrondissement. That might be a wake-up call for the Jing.

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..