So, I was tooling through twitter, and found this gem that Cam MacMurchy (@zhongnanhai) had retweeted. This is a left turn method that apparently is normal in Beijing.
Left Turning in Formation – Like the Blue Angels Might if Driving Cars
Ever felt frustrated that you are stuck in the left turn lane and it looks like F-O-R-E-V-E-R before you will get to turn? Well, here is how the opportunistic drivers in Beijing, China, deal with it. In fact, I will refer to this as the “Freight Training” technique.
The amazing thing is that, if everyone is playing by the same rules, it works. Though us western folks seeing this are dropping our false teeth on the sidewalks (or back of the cab if in the “A” group of cars). *Note : I don’t have false teeth – its just an expression.
Yet Another Traffic Scene From the Same Guy, Henry B.
Here is another traffic situation, that is utter chaos. Get ready to “weep” with laughter. Drivers will take any “break” in traffic to turn. Sometimes, that results in hilarity, especially if you add in the hapless pedestrians, and bicycles.
England Has a Form of This “Freight Training” Too
Look, I know this is a blog about China stuff. But I just have to add this about “traffic circles” as it is similar in nature to the examples above.
In England, they love traffic circles. In America, we have stop lights, 2 way stops, and 4 way stops, mostly. But most open roads in England use traffic circles.
Typically, traffic circle trans-versing would happen as follows. Assume here a traffic circle serving the intersection of 2 roads. I would enter the traffic circle to the left as they drive on the left. I would normally go past the first exit and then take the second exit to continue on the same road I was on before. No straight through in England. You have to transverse the traffic circle. So, if I was going north before getting to the traffic circle, I end up going north after leaving the traffic circle. Ok, that is normal operation of a traffic circle.
Driving on the wrong side of the road in itself is bad enough. But having to deal with traffic circles at the same time is even worst, as the default tendency is to turn right. So, mentally, you are on edge the entire time, just more so at the traffic circles.
So, here is the “freight-training” that happened. Traffic circles are not too bad if there is normal traffic. However, if rush hour is on, the following occurs. I am on Road B, attempting to get to the airport to catch my flight in the early morning. I have lots of time to get to the airport, turn in my car, and get to my gate. Nerves are not too “frayed” yet.
Just before I get to the circle, Road B traffic loses its ability to enter the circle, as Road A has long line of cars entering the city. Once Road A takes control of the circle, the A line of cars “freight-train” into the circle and out the opposite side. Nerves starting to itch a bit.
The Road A cars do not even slow down to consider yielding upon entering the circle; they know they have control. This completely blocks the Road B cars from even moving into the circle. This goes on for 40 minutes… One continuous pile-through. 40 long agonizing minutes while my nerves tense, stretch, and break. Road B cars (and me losing my cool) are stationary as all those city workers hog (and I mean HOG) the traffic circle. Nerves have completely snapped at this point, and I need a complete replacement set.
When I can finally enter the circle to continue on the same road, I am now late for the airport. I had plenty of time before, but now I am rushing.
That right there convinced me that traffic circles should be used sparingly. Thank goodness, we do just that in America.
Now, I know why they outlaw guns in England. Traffic circles alone would prompt several killings a year.
Thanks for reading. I have waited 24 years to get that out. Hmmm, I feel better. Now, back to Beijing driving comments…
Take a Cab in Beijing
Don’t you even think about driving yourself as a tourist in Beijing. You don’t understand the “mystery” rules, the hidden art. Elsewhere in the blog, I called taxi driving in Beijing a type of Controlled Chaos. The Cabbies do know how to drive in that chaos. Let them do the driving.
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