Drivers beware: a booming economy and middle class may result in painfully slow roads. One traffic jam this month, along a highway leading to Beijing, stretched over 100km and lasted for nine days. Some 248,000 additional cars were registered in Beijing in the first four months of this year alone, snarling up the streets.
Lots of roadworks are causing short-term grief. But the main problem seems to be demand for goods and energy, as lorries carrying coal crawl endlessly towards the city. Beijing is said to be spending 80 billion yuan ($11.8 billion) this year on transport infrastructure. It might be wiser to invest in alternative forms of power generation.
CHINA tends to do everything a bit bigger than the rest of the world, including traffic jams. One snarl up this month along a highway leading into Beijing was at one point over 100km long and left traffic gridlocked for eleven days until it mysteriously vanished on Thursday August 26th. Roadworks and booming demand for coal and other goods sent thousands of lorries heading for China’s capital. Beijing is set to spend 80 billion yuan ($11.8 billion) on transport infrastructure in 2010—but it may not be enough. In recent years rising vehicle ownership has outpaced the growth of China’s express highway system by a distance. China’s new motoring class may have to get used to spending many more hours behind the wheel than they might otherwise intend.