Thursday, April 10, 2008
It has become fashionable to think of Beijing as a city choking with traffic and pollution and yet it is a wide open city with large boulevards complete with bicycle lanes, accessible sidewalks, and pedestrian underpasses. There are times when the roads are almost fully utilized but the traffic is moving at all times stopping only for traffic lights. There are no motorcycles to be seen much less two-stroke engines. Many Beijingers use bicycles of both the human powered and battery assisted varieties. A network of electric and NGV powered buses and underground subway trains provides an extensive, efficient, reliable, and dirt cheap mass transport system. The air is cleaner and the traffic moves more freely in Beijing than in Bangkok or Hong Kong. The only time I saw what could be described as a road choking with traffic was the Badaling Expressway on the night before a holiday called "grave sweeping day" when there was a mass exodus.