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Reason Foundation

Behind the Great China Traffic Jam

Adrian Moore
August 31, 2010, 12:49pm

This analysis of the traffic jam and transportation trends in Beijing is interesting.

First we need to understand that this was not a "Beijing" traffic jam at all,or even on the outskirts of Beijing. The traffic jam came no closer to Beijing than 150 miles (250 kilometers) away. . .

Beijing has achieved a car ownership rate almost equal to that of New York City's dense boroughs. In 2008, the dense boroughs of New York City had 0.52 cars per household, while Beijing had achieved a 0.51 rate. One report now places Beijing's car ownership one third higher than in 2008, which would place Beijing's car ownership rate 20% above that of New York City. . .

Meanwhile, there are reports that authorities have eased the traffic jam in Inner Mongolia. A longer term solution might be to add a couple of additional lanes in each direction. This should not be too difficult in a nation that by the end of the year will have nearly as many miles of freeway (43,000 or 70,000 kilometers) as the original US interstate system and will probably lead the world early in the next decade. This is a key to improving the competitiveness of Chinese urban areas. Sufficient roadway investment to handle growing travel demand will be just as important to maintain the competitiveness of US urban areas.


Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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