Traffic In China Is Agonizingly, Incredibly Slow

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In my ongoing bid for the world title of Understatement of the Year, I will humbly say that China Has A Lot Of People. And having a lot of people tends to mean that there are a lot of cars. And a lot of cars means a lot of traffic. So much so that in Beijing, the average car doesn't move faster than 7.5 MPH.

My brain is beginning to melt just trying to imagine how heinous that commute must be every single day. Hours upon hours, sitting in your knockoff Escalade, staring at the drudgery of the gray plastic that surrounds you while the drudgery of the gray traffic in front stares right back at you. If only you had some sort of big truck with big tires you could use to surmount the endless acres of steel before you, but you don't, because your car is called a Victory Jinchi JX1.



China is desperately trying different ideas to alleviate its congestion problem, according to the Wall Street Journal, including new public transit options and attempts at limiting the number of license plates it gives out, but it's not exactly working. Part of the reason is at least partially attributable to quirks of car-buying behavior in China, according to Quartz:

A study by Georgia Institute of Technology's Yang Jiawen found that China's urban transportation patterns differ dramatically from those in the US. Instead of auto use increasing in suburban areas, in China, it'susually around a city's center—concentrated in high-income areas (pdf, p.67).

That helps explain why car sales are surging, even as air pollution-angst has exploded as well.

And, as Quartz points out, all of this means that if you're capable of running an eight minute mile, which isn't difficult even for a fat boy like me, you'd be moving faster than the average motor vehicle.

Well, it wouldn't be difficult, if you could breathe.


Photo credit: poeloq