We received this message from a reader this morning:
You may want to advise Shanghaiist readers to stay the hell away from Beijing the first week of November. It’s going to be absolute chaos. For people who live in Beijing, they should hide.
Why, you ask? Blame Africa. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) will be held in Beijing from Nov. 1-6, and 48 African countries are sending delegations to the event, including at least 30 heads of state. Beijing has come up with a plan designed to make getting to and from various events easier for its African guests — and for the other 8 million people in the city, to make life hell:
[T]he plan stipulates that half of the vehicles owned by work units of the State and Party institutions, or military forces and their affiliated enterprises, will be banned from the streets during those six days.
Also banned will be 80 percent of government vehicles from every suburb and county in Beijing Municipality, and from the Beijing offices of every other province and municipality.
For privately-owned and company cars, drivers are recommended to avoid major routes likely to be used by foreign guests during the summit.
Those routes include Chang’an Avenue, the east and west second ring roads, and the airport expressway.
Taxis without passengers are strictly banned from entering Chang’an Avenue, the east and west Second Ring Roads, Sanlihe Street, the roads to the east and west of Tian’anmen Square, and the road to the west of the Great Hall of the People.
All drivers are also encouraged to avoid the main airport expressway, instead using the northern road that also links the airport to the city.
Sounds like good times, because we all know Beijing’s roads are already a pleasure to travel on when all of the major thoroughfares are open to traffic. A recent report (in Chinese) said the city’s streets are nearing capacity and a “crisis is imminent”:
According to the report, 90% of Beijing’s roads have reached their capacity, and every day a thousand new cars hit the roads. The city’s road planning has obviously fallen behind the increase of cars, and it is creating a serious traffic problem in the capital.
According to the city’s traffic management system, Beijing already has 2.7 million cars, of which nearly 2 million are privately owned. It is estimated that by the 2008 Beijing Olympics the total number of cars will rise to 3 million.
During rush hour, the average car’s speed is only 20kph, and in the most congested areas that average falls to 7kph, just slightly faster than walking, and the traffic problem is not going to improve in the short term.
We can’t wait for the Olympics!
Image by triciawang.