1 Day Later - Traffic, oh how I could forget you...
Yesterday was the first day of “normalcy” on the roads here in Beijing. Unfortunately, “normal” conditions aren’t ideal. ;-) Traffic was so bad last evening - I was in traffic for a good half hour to go 1 kilometer. Yikes! Last night, someone told me that Beijing was going to implement a more permanent car ban switcheroo - even cars on even days, odd cars on odd days, starting January 1. How long will it last? Well if they actually go along with this plan (again, it’s a rumor at this point), I can just short of guarantee it will last through the Olympics. The more I think about this, the more I think it’s an O.K. idea. The traffic authorities need to do something to handle the traffic situation. Pollution? Well, let’s not go there - I think you know my thoughts already. Coal is the problem. I won’t bore you anymore regarding that.
We’re talking about traffic here.
If I were to take a taxi from home to work on a “normal” day - i.e. a day with a “normal” amount of traffic (um, read this: A LOT of traffic), and I don’t leave exceptionally early, it will take on average 45 minutes to get to work - sometimes longer. Yes, sometimes shorter - on freak days. And that’s using the expressways and ring roads. Surface roads are much worse! Lucky for me, I have a motorcycle which allows me to be a bit more liberal when it comes to the whole “stay in your lane” concept. I’m specifically talking about the famous 3rd ring road which is strategically equiped with an emergency vehicle/parking lane. This comes in handy almost daily when I need to “beat” the traffic. Unfortunately, not all ring roads or expressways have this (notably 2nd ring road), which means I’m stuck like everyone else. It sucks big time. And on a hot summer day, an air-cooled engine sitting on hot asphalt, with no wind to cool it, doesn’t do so well. So, where am I getting - I think I’m rambling a bit. Something needs to be done about the traffic situation, and fast. More and more people are buying cars (the statistic we often hear is 1,000 new cars on Beijing streets every day). That’s mind boggling! While I generally favor higher costs to drive (i.e. tolls) over an all-out ban, I think it is something that needs to be done to allow time to devise a more permanent plan. If people want to drive, and they want to drive badly - they’ll pay. I know I’m shooting myself in the leg here, but I know it will have multiple benefits in the long run:
- More money for the traffic bureau to maintain/improve the road system
- Reduced pollution (but still need to get rid of the coal!)
- Most importantly (in my eyes), reduced traffic = happy drivers = less accidents = happy times for all, even the insurance companies!