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China's Nine-Day Traffic Jam Tops 62 Miles 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the living-on-the-road dept.
A traffic jam on the Beijing-Tibet expressway has now entered its ninth day and has grown to over 62 miles in length. This mother-of-all delays has even spawned its own micro-economy of local merchants selling water and food at inflated prices to stranded drivers. Can you imagine how infuriating it must be to see someone leave their blinker on for 9 days?
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China's Nine-Day Traffic Jam Tops 62 Miles

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  • being how they are the first in the world in being green

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:12PM (#33343716) Homepage

      You're being sarcastic, but this used to be true. Rapid changes in China's internal economic policy have created a growing "middle class" whose buying habits are much like those of American consumers. That includes a new interest in automobiles, as status symbols and otherwise, resulting in China becoming the largest car market in the world. That's right: China now buys more cars than anybody, and that wasn't true just a few years ago. 33 years ago there were only about a million cars in all of China. There are now four million cars on the streets of Beijing alone, and the Chinese bought 13.6 million cars in 2009. Americans only bought 10.4 million.

      • by curunir (98273) *

        That includes a new interest in automobiles, as status symbols and otherwise, resulting in China becoming the largest car market in the world.

        One of the ironies of this is that it's probably going to be what saves the American auto industry. The historic dislike of many of the neighboring Asian countries means that a number of the brands that are popular in America have very little of the Chinese market. And American cars are seen very popular and often seen as the luxury alternative to cheap Chinese cars. IIRC, Buicks are quite popular there since that's what the emperor drove back before even rich people could think of owning an automobile ther

      • by Tailhook (98486)

        being how they are the first in the world in being green

        but this used to be true

        When did it change, because I'm still hearing folks claim that 'the US is falling behind green China?' Are they talking about the same car buying, coal guzzling, smog breathing, reactor building, dustbowl China we are?

        Some half-smart knob is now going to chime in with per-capita this and per-capita that. If there was any doubt that China is climbing the same consuption curve then this nine-day traffic jam dominated by six-month old cars should dispell it. Your per-capita argument has a big fat expiration

  • Holy crap! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anarki2004 (1652007) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:13PM (#33342762) Homepage Journal
    Nine days?? I think I would walk home. Even if its 50 miles, that could be covered in nine days.I mean holy shit, wtf is the problem over there?
    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Walk home and lose your car?

      Not in China.

      • by sarysa (1089739)
        If you have a beater and you'd lose more money by not showing up at work, it'd be smarter to just abandon the car.

        What kind of penalties do you incur in China for abandoning a car?
        Not to mention, how many people in that nightmare pileup have run out of gas?
        • Just come back next week (pay attention to the radio for when they report that the jam is easing), and pick up your car.

      • Why would he lose the car? Its not like its going anywhere? He can come back and get it next week.

    • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Informative)

      by operagost (62405) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:16PM (#33342838) Homepage Journal
      It's not that every vehicle has been stuck in there for nine days: it's that the traffic has been crawling for nine days. Usually a traffic jam clears out at a later hour, but volume is too high even at night.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        BINGO!

        In my county, "rush hour" lasts 5 hours each direction, but few individual cars are in the mire for more than 90 minutes,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ISoldat53 (977164)
        Reminds me of the party in Hitchhiker's Guide that lasted for generations.
      • by ktappe (747125)

        It's not that every vehicle has been stuck in there for nine days: it's that the traffic has been crawling for nine days. Usually a traffic jam clears out at a later hour, but volume is too high even at night.

        Sorry, that does not appear to be true [qq.com].
        (Scroll down to the guys sitting in a circle in the middle of the road playing cards. That is not "crawling" that is "shut off your engine and sit for days".)

    • Maybe that's why the jam is lasting so long: people just abandoning their vehicles. (No, I haven't RTFA yet)
    • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonbryce (703250) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:23PM (#33342946) Homepage

      The whole journey is 3620km long, and takes about 3 days to drive in normal traffic. Traffic is getting through, it is just running slowly because of road works to widen the road. The delays have been going on for 9 days, but that doesn't mean it is the same cars as 9 days ago.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        "The whole journey is 3620km long, and takes about 3 days to drive in normal traffic. Traffic is getting through, it is just running slowly because of road works to widen the road. The delays have been going on for 9 days, but that doesn't mean it is the same cars as 9 days ago."

        Huh? Article says: "Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days"

        Now maybe my reading comprehension sucks, but it sounds to me
        • Huh? Article says: "Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days" Now maybe my reading comprehension sucks, but it sounds to me like there's 60+ miles of traffic and that traffic has been there for 9 days. I understand that a few cars join and other's leave, but it does sound like it's taking days to get through it.

          Are you for real? You actually believe its the same cars stuck in there for 9 days and not just a traffic bottleneck being over reported? So later in the article when it says that "The congestion was expected to last into mid-September as the road project will not be finished until then" you actually think the same cars will be stuck in traffic until mid-september?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Abstrackt (609015)

            So later in the article when it says that "The congestion was expected to last into mid-September as the road project will not be finished until then" you actually think the same cars will be stuck in traffic until mid-september?

            Those poor people...

            • by Again (1351325)

              So later in the article when it says that "The congestion was expected to last into mid-September as the road project will not be finished until then" you actually think the same cars will be stuck in traffic until mid-september?

              Those poor people...

              I see what you referenced there.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by amicusNYCL (1538833)

            Are you for real? You actually believe its the same cars stuck in there for 9 days and not just a traffic bottleneck being over reported?

            I doubt cars have been stuck in there for all 9 days, but keep in mind that there are food and water vendors, which implies that cars are in fact stationary in the same place for an extended period.

    • I remember the evacuation traffic from Houston during hurricane Ike. Many people got stuck in traffic so bad that after traveling only 10-20 miles in 12 hours many people turned around and just rode the hurricane out.
      • by lgw (121541)

        That's the only time in my life that I have been embarassed by Texas (and particularly for some of my extended family who were part of the problem).

    • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Informative)

      by cyfer2000 (548592) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:47PM (#33344316) Journal
      The picture used in the AP news are traffic jam from an unrelated area. I call this good journalism. Following are some news from the real traffic jam, so you can get the real picture. A [qq.com], B, [163.com]C [sohu.com], D [sina.com.cn], E [163.com], F, G [google.com]
      • by Khashishi (775369)

        Holy bad journalism. That really changes how I look at the problem. Cars just generally suck, but freight trucks are fairly necessary if we want to continue to live in cities.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      It worked out well for Michael Douglas didnt it?

  • Cue the Chinese remake of "Falling Down"... [wikipedia.org]
  • Idle (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:15PM (#33342822)

    This must be the first time the Idle category is really apt.

  • by Ambiguous Coward (205751) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:18PM (#33342854) Homepage

    I think I saw this on an episode of Doctor Who.

    • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:37PM (#33343196) Homepage Journal

      I really miss Omni Magazine from the late '70s and early '80s, with its bold predictions of the Brave New World coming in the then-distant New Millenium. One of my favorite stories was The Great Moveway Jam [krewedukat.com], a dystopian story of a traffic jam started by a little old lady who put on her left blinker, but turned right.

      The story was based in California, 1998-9 -- but China in 2010 makes a lot more sense. Especially since the solution to the jam, which extended "from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and... seventy-nine miles inland", involved building a wall to prevent "jamees" from abandoning their immobile vehicles, and a Final Solution that involved a lot of helicopters, a *whole* lot of cement, and airdropped suicide pills.

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      You're thinking of Gridlock [about.com]

    • You did (Score:3, Interesting)

      by idji (984038)
      It was the 2007 Doctor Who episode Grid Lock [wikipedia.org] where in the year 5 billion and 53 the traffic in New New York was so bad it took 6 years to travel 10 miles in the high occupancy lane.
  • False precision (Score:4, Informative)

    by DudeTheMath (522264) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:19PM (#33342880) Homepage

    Why convert from km to miles? TFA says it's over 100km, decidedly imprecise (it's probably not over 110km, but could easily be 104km). The poster converts for us to English measurements with an increased precision, with the implication that, while it's over 62 miles, it's not over 63.

    • And anyway, they should have said "over 62.13712 miles (approximately)" for even more impressive false precision.
    • Re your sig:

      Yes, I live in California. We spend 578 MILLION on high schools in districts with dropout rates approaching 50%, so we can drive fast. You do the math.

    • by severoon (536737)

      I object to your sig.

      Travelling at speed on the highway is not about getting to your destination marginally faster. It's about keeping the flow of traffic up to prevent marginally more deaths and injuries.

      I know it doesn't directly say it, but your sig implies that it's perfectly reasonable to merge onto the highway at 60 when everyone else is doing 80. No, that's not ok, it's not safe, people won't slow down, they'll go around you and it'll cause an avoidably dangerous situation. AND everyone gets to their

    • And I must note that NPR's article has a more correct "60-mile stretch."

  • Wouldn't there be cars running out of gas all over the place?
    Sounds like the makings for permanent gridlock.
  • Significant figures (Score:3, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:21PM (#33342914)

    When the article headline says "over 100km", the conversion -- if one is really required -- should be "over 60 miles".

    "The congestion was expected to last into mid-September as the road project will not be finished until then, the newspaper said."

    Sounds like they need to build some more railway.

    • Something like 3%. it is horrendously expensive for that 3%.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Something like 3%. it is horrendously expensive for that 3%.

        3% of what?

        The article says the problem is partly caused by freight being brought into Beijing, although the pictures show mostly cars.

        The cost depends what your priorities are, and what you can externalise (railways tend to have far fewer accidents, take up much less land, use much less fuel, create much less pollution etc -- suddenly roads don't seem so cheap).

        Anyway, China is building railways -- something like 50% of new railways in the next decade are going to be built in China.

  • by jarkus4 (1627895) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:21PM (#33342920)
    from another article (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/08/23/china-traffic-jam.html?ref=rss): "Another driver, Wang, told Xinhua he'd been stuck in the traffic jam for three days and two nights."
    • by thijsh (910751)
      "The traffic is no excuse to be late on the job!"
      I wonder how many of these guys in the traffic jam lost their jobs this month... given the fact the Chinese have an even stricter work-culture and an abundance of other people willing to take the job.
  • by Gramie2 (411713) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:23PM (#33342942)

    If you look at traffic jams in Japan at the beginning and end of major holidays (New Year's, Golden Week, O-bon), the expressways around Tokyo usually have jams this long or longer. In the August 5-18 O-Bon holiday, they reported jams of more than 10 km occurring 596 times.

    That's what you get when you give most of the people in the country holidays at the same time.

  • Can you imagine how infuriating it must be to see someone leave their blinker on for 9 days?

    You've never driven I-95 the length from NYC to Miami, have you?
    • by Amouth (879122)

      NYC to Miami is only 19-20 hours.. not that bad of a drive - moves quick really.. just sucks when you get to Florida .. feel like its over but you still have 6 hours to go.. i always had it alittle worse.. didn't stop at Miami but rather went to the Keys/..// damn its a long way down there...

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Well when you hit Florida it doesn't matter. They all magically stop working anyway.

  • Doctor Who (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beardydog (716221) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:49PM (#33343348)
    Wasn't this an episode of Doctor Who a couple of years ago? It turned out some kind of monster had organized the whole thing so it could eat people in the underground tunnels, I think.China should check for monsters.
    • The face of Bo(Captain Jack) organized it to save them from a plague that wiped out the rest of the planet.

    • Sorry to be nitpicky, but no, that's not what happened. An extremely deadly virus broke out and killed people very quickly. The city was shut down and only the people in their cars survived. The system was set up so they'd perpetually stay in their cars even though the danger had passed. The monsters were a separate element that thrived in the changing environment.

  • by IceDogg (729245) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:56PM (#33343438)
    Here in the United States, we call this phenomenon "Atlanta".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:06PM (#33343608)

    This jam sounds like something out of a William Gibson novel. Kwan Xiahacker is 19 years old, and makes a living providing computer security to the residents of the Beijing-Tibet expressway trafficjam, where he was born.

  • The rolling traffic jam can be thought of as a queue. Cars are can enter the queue at any rate. However, cars can only leave the queue every 2 seconds. The reason is that if you were stopped behind another car, you wouldn't jam your gas pedal at the exact second the car in front of you does. You would wait until that car moves 20-30 feet before moving your own car. This delay adds up for every car in the queue (let's approximate 2 seconds). So if there were 100 cars in the queue you would need 200 seconds b

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      This delay is also why the talk of smart cars eliminating traffic jams are (technically) possible. If all the cars on the roads are forming an ad hoc network and talking to each other about traffic, they can "see" a traffic jam forming ahead. Then, they can slow down the incoming traffic so, though there would still be cars arriving at the same point faster than every 2 seconds, you can hopefully delay most of them by enough that they arrive after the jam has been cleared. This, of course, relies on eith
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:11PM (#33343700)

    Move the cargo traffic to rail!

    • Thank God for another logical soul. I've been lobbying to get commercial trucks off of I-35 for 10 years now. It doesn't even have to be rail..why not make a new highway system just for commercial cargo? It wouldn't even have to be that great, because truck drivers are already used to being stuck in traffic (since they are generally causing the jams). And, it frees up Interstate travel for smaller, more manageable vehicles. It would probably improve safety as well.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Well, your lobbying must be working, because they're currently loading the entire trailer up onto train cars for the long-haul. Trucks pick them back up at the railhead and take them the last mile.

      • I've been lobbying to get commercial trucks off of I-35 for 10 years now.

        The irony being that the interstate highway system was designed for commercial traffic and for civil defense (moving military supplies easier across the country in the event of an invasion).

        • by j-pimp (177072)

          The irony being that the interstate highway system was designed for commercial traffic and for civil defense (moving military supplies easier across the country in the event of an invasion).

          I'm also not sure the "commerce clause" would apply to nationally funded highways that didn't allow commercial traffic. Not that anyone follows that silly little constitution any more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ichijo (607641)

      A big rig causes 9,600 [jsonline.com] times as much road wear as a car, but doesn't pay 9,600 times as much in taxes. So a simple solution is to make them pay the full cost, based on the weight of the vehicle and the number of axles.

      Faced with paying the full cost of transporting goods, the shipping companies will use rail more often, and that will reduce traffic congestion and save us money on repairing the roads.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:23PM (#33345804) Journal
        FWIW, that's not completely accurate. There is more to what constitutes wear on a highway than the vehicles that drive on it. You've got wear-and-tear from use, but you've also got to factor in the natural deprecation caused by weather, plants, etc.

        So if you wanted to assign true cost, you'd have a fixed fee (for all vehicles) assigned to cover the fixed costs, and a proportional fee levied to cover the variable use-dependent costs.

        Aside from that, your point stands.

        And I'd like to add that if we subsidize rail like we subsidize highways, it's be MUCH cheaper than currently, with much higher usage rates, and so we'd likely be able to afford a much better rail system.

        But for some reason we expect rail systems to be self-sufficient, while we sink billions upon billions into roads, highways, and waterways.
        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>
          And I'd like to add that if we subsidize rail like we subsidize highways, it's be MUCH cheaper than currently, with much higher usage rates, and so we'd likely be able to afford a much better rail system.

          You do know that China has a very extensive rail system, and they still got this mess?

          At any one time, there's a million people in transit in Beijing train stations alone.

  • No big deal. Park. Walk. Return.
  • ...and so there's an easy solution. When wants exceed supply, this is a sign that the price is too low. The market solution is to raise the price until supply and demand equalize.

    Sadly, we haven't learned this in America. We prefer to maintain the illusion that freeways are free, even though the market solution would be cheaper in the end.

  • "The Southern Thruway" is a short story by "Julio Cortazar" that depicts the microeconomy and social interaction of a group of people struck in a days long traffic jam in Paris. He wrote it around 1960-1970.

    Sometimes reality turns fiction obsolete....

  • So the cars are stopped, almost as though they were in one big tool booth.

    Hire a few of the huge oversupply of men to become toll collectors, parachute them to various points along the road with supplies and plenty of ammo, inform the folks on the road that they can avoid a toll only if they get off the road, and then start randomly picking stopped vehicles, stopped for even a second, to toll. Soon enough the road would clear out. And just think of the money they could donate to the preservation of Tibe

  • Most of the freeways in southern California have had traffic jams that have lasted for 30 years, so far. That I know of. Possibly longer.

Philogyny recapitulates erogeny; erogeny recapitulates philogyny.

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