Chinese Traffic Jam Enters 10th Day

A 62-mile traffic jam going into Beijing, China has entered its 10th day. Roadside vendors have quadrupled prices on noodles. Interviewed drivers say they’re not leaving because alternate routes would use up more gas.

It’s sort of like the extreme version of not wanting to switch lines at the grocery store because you’ve already stood in the current one so long.

The delays are said to be caused by maintenance trucks bringing in construction supplies to the city.

100-km Chinese traffic jam enters Day 9 [CBC News]


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  1. nextyearsgirl says:

    This is the first I’m hearing about this — it’s a lot to take in before my coffee is finished.

  2. digital0verdose says:

    Now this is telling of differences between China and the US. If this were to happen in the US, people would have road raged to the point of people getting shot and most likely rioting.

    People go crazy here when they can’t get their Starbucks in a timely manner.

    • DariusC says:

      I am positive that everyone over there is perfectly calm and that the city is taking things very seriously.

    • Megladon says:

      Its amazing, they dont get road rage there, i’ve never seen it. I’ve wanted to beat my cab driver, or other drivers, but i’ve never seen a chinese person get upset while driving.

      • cloudedknife says:

        they just don’t know how to use their brakes, or have any idea that stopping at a 4way intersection might be a good idea.

      • jamar0303 says:

        Never been to Shanghai, have you? You’d change your tune rather quickly if you have, even for just a week.

    • RxDude says:

      We don’t get 60 mile, 10 day traffic jams, either.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Actually, in China people tend to distrust the police because of corruption and apathy for common citizens’ disputes, so the people on that road who have a beef with someone else will definitely take matters into their own hands and if it escalates to violence, “eye for an eye” is the name of the game.

    • slappysquirrel says:

      Of course, if you shoot someone, they won’t be there to move their car even if things do clear up.

    • GrammatonCleric says:

      No that all happens there too, but the government kills anyone who breathes a word about it :P. In all seriousness though call me as stupid as you want, NOBODY is as good as the United States of America. But we really all just suck because we’re human haha.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    They’re keeping up with this over at the Infrastructurist blog. Vicious. Reminds me of the craziness before Hurricane Rita in Houston.

    My question is how any driver can leave at all, not why they are choosing not to.

    • johnva says:

      During a hurricane evacuation in South Carolina (I believe it was Floyd maybe?) they had those massive traffic jams on the interstates (I knew a lot of people who were stuck for 24-36 hours in gridlock). It was actually a big political factor in the governor going down in flames in his election. I, on the other hand, used a different strategy that worked a LOT better: I looked at a map, and picked a route that used the smallest backwoods roads I could find. There were still delays (impossible for there not to be when a few million people leave the coast on the same day), but it was a lot more tolerable because a lot of people don’t even consider that the fastest way when there isn’t a lot of traffic might not be the fastest way when there is.

      • dr_drift says:

        Yeah, but that was just a hurricane. This is… CONSTRUCTION.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Yup. Our strategy in Rita was to take it in sections… we drove on back roads up to the northwest of the city and waited till traffic got reasonable, then we took the freeways to Austin. No sweat and my house wasn’t even damaged when I got back. I rode out Ike without any trouble and had power back on three days later. I love my apartment.

  4. AstroPig7 says:

    No sensible route could possibly use more gas than idling for days. Also, that cannot be a healthy environment to stay in for so long.

    • digital0verdose says:

      I’ve got to imagine that if you are stuck in a 10 day traffic jam, it’s probably safe just to turn your car off.

      • dr_drift says:

        No, because the minute you turn your car off, the car in front of you will creep forward three centimeters and the people behind you will start honking.

        • digital0verdose says:

          Ive never been in a 10 traffic jam so I dont know if they work the same way as an hour long one.

        • Brainswarm says:

          Don’t forget that if the car in the next lane sees a gap, and thinks your lane might be moving faster, he WILL take it.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      I don’t think China is known for their healthy environment anyway.

    • rushevents says:

      This doesn’t say that they have been stuck in one place for 10 days – rather the traffic jam has lasted that long. Contrast that with Atlanta, Chicago or LA where you have high congestion in the mornings and evenings with free flowing traffic mid-day and through the night.

  5. bvita says:

  6. ColHapablap says:

    Who will go crazy first: these driver stuck in traffic, or the Chilean miners stuck underground for the next 4 months?

  7. bvita says:

  8. MustWarnOthers says:

    Anytime I have to sit in extremely slow bumper to bumper traffic, I rage in my car asking myself “WHY IS IT, AGAIN, THAT I LIKE TO DRIVE MANUAL TRANSMISSION?!!?”

    If I was in this, I’d probably just set fire to the car on be done with it.

    • bsh0544 says:

      I agree on the MT subject. Wonderful to drive until you get into slow traffic. Best option is to throw it in a low gear (first or second) and crawl forward at a steady pace. You get passed/flipped off a lot but at least you don’t have to clutch or brake as often.

    • FerretGirl says:

      I KNOW RIGHT?! All of my cars have been manual transmissions. I don’t currently have a car so when friends want a DD I have to use their cars. I’ve been made fun of for avoiding traffic like the plague and knowing all the routes around town that don’t have stop lights but you, you know my pain.

      • FerretGirl says:

        My post is unclear. I avoid traffic and stop lights out of habit, not because I need to. When you have a manual the last thing you want to do is stop at 10 stop lights in 10 blocks.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          I have driven manual transmissions virtually my whole life…even took my first driving test at 16 in one.

          And even considering that my current vehicle is a 1-ton diesel pickup, I don’t even really register anything about the number of times I have to stop and start. It’s the way it is…neither good nor bad.

          • DustingWhale says:

            You guys are nuts. Traffic with a good manual transmission is great – drop to first and creep, build up a nice bubble and mean mug everyone that wants to cut you off. I can’t stand driving my Wife’s autotragic in traffic; gas, brake, gas, brake, brake brake, barely brake, gas… ugh so horrible. In a manual; 1st, creep, creep, clutch off, slight clutch, creep creep, fully engaged 1st, creep creep. I rarely use brakes. And if you’ve studied “traffic shock” you’ll be like me and assume that manual drivers help break up traffic.

            • mac-phisto says:

              ditto. & that’s after spending a good 6 hours of my life on 495 in mass a couple weekends ago in my 5spd. i try to creep in 2nd though – 1st is a little too bucky for me (1st gear has a 3.54:1 gear ratio compared to 1.96:1 in 2nd). but i can keep 2nd fully engaged to as low as 5mph & it’s still an easy ride.

    • ktetch says:

      pfft. I grew up with MT’s (never drove one until I moved to the US, only like 5% of cars in the UK are AT – typically driven by those who can’t pass a manual transmission test) and lots of traffic. I’ve been stuck in lots of traffic (I always hated having to go to London for that reason) but it was passable. Even a 5 hour traffic jam on the motorway wasn’t so bad. Of course, I just turned off the engine, and pushed it forwards when needed. (It’s not so easy to do with my Lumina, as it was my 340, but i’ve done it before now even here)

  9. Megladon says:

    Other delays are because in china lanes are optional, switching them multiple times in the same minute are common and further delays are caused by the fact that few people have been driving over 3 years. It also doesnt help that untold new cars are added to the road every day there, usualy driven by new inexperienced drivers.

  10. grucifer says:

    10 days….

    What would you tell your boss if you were stuck in traffic for 1 day, let alone 10?

    These people don’t want to waste gas, but what about missed wages due to missed work?

    • DariusC says:

      Remember they all get paid the same regardless, I am sure that they would be paid and the companies would just write it off on their taxes or something. Not their fault, not the company’s fault… it is the cities fault and even then it could be in reponse to a natural disaster. No I did not RTFA

  11. gamehendge2000 says:

    I smell a Jackie Chan movie

  12. Angus99 says:

    “Roadside vendors have quadrupled prices on noodles.”

    How very capitalistic of them.

  13. FreeShaggy says:

    Soooo many questions

    Does this excuse them from missing work? Or is this an accepted reason? I would love to see a boss say “Well if you knew you were gonna be 12 days late, should have left 12 days sooner!”
    Do they just park the car get out and walk and then come back later to move it?
    How many people have gone insane so far?
    How much wider is the hole in the ozone layer getting because of this?

    • DariusC says:

      “You knew you were going to be 12 days late, you should have left 12 days sooner!”

      That would put you right back to being 12 days late again. Math fail.

      • chefboyardee says:

        How? If it takes 12 days to travel somewhere, you leave on day 0 to arrive on day 12. So, if you leave on day -12 instead, you would arrive on day 0, thus making you “on time”.

      • Marshmelly says:

        …comprehension fail.

      • manyhats says:

        That is great boss logic. It’s like the better examples of parent logic: Don’t put your arm out of the window, it’ll get cut off! Actually, in this case, people might be smart to keep their appendages in their cars in order to protect themselves from the inevitable zombie attack.

    • Clumber says:

      Pfffoooo! on the other replies. FreeShags? I have to tell you that I have had a SHITTY week at work and this ” I would love to see a boss say “Well if you knew you were gonna be 12 days late, should have left 12 days sooner!” made me burst out laughing. I only have 55 minutes left until my weekend, and you Sir or Madam have made those minutes much more tolerable.

      {Ok, to the other replies maybe the math fails, but it is the typical assnugget boss referred to as the speaker, not the genius whippersnapping Consumerist commenters! The kind of boss sitting about 15 meters away from me right this moment who also pronounces scenario with a hard K. And Linux as LINE-ex. And hollered at me for having my schedule end one day at 1pm instead of 1:30 because someone called at 2:30 and he needed me to answer their question. In character FTW, Mmmm-Kay?} {Yes, I have some vacation coming up, thank you.}

  14. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    …so, the 62 miles’ worth of drivers didn’t actually have, you know, anything that they needed to do once they got to the city? No need to worry about getting to work, or maybe getting back home? Just exactly what is it that they are waiting to do that is still going to be there when they get to the city a couple weeks later? And is it so important that they don’t mind being unemployed and maybe divorced when they get there?

  15. SonarTech52 says:

    Gonna be a while? Grab a .. (Chinese version of Snickers)

  16. Harry_Greek says:

    And China goes on being uncritiziced for such things,…

  17. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I see a lot of potential for businesses to benefit from this. Why not have couriers deliver food on scooter? Why not rent scooters? Or maybe Jackie Chan can rent Segways to people in the jam. The jam will take so long to resolve that they’ll get to work before the traffic moves. It’d be like dropping off your car at the shop – you receive a loaner and your car gets moved to a parking lot somewhere.

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      local vendors are selling raman and water to the drivers for double or triple what it’s worth. They are also reporting that anyone who refuses or argues the price have gotten threats that they’ll get their windshield smashed. I just can’t even imagine having to sit in traffic for days, I think I would take my chances and walk or make an illegal u-turn in the grass/opposite lane and wait the traffic out at home.

  18. Jevia says:

    I first was thinking that it just meant the road was jammed up all the time over the past nine days, meaning that it just took drivers an extra long time to get to wherever they were going. But one person is quoted as saying they’ve been stuck in traffic for 3 days and 2 nights??? Are you kidding me??? Who would choose to remain in such a situation, as this driver is saying that taking a detour would cost him more. What??? It would cost more to take a detour that might actually get you to your destination 3 days earlier?

    • Kitamura says:

      Apparently time is not money to these people?

    • crashfrog says:

      It’s a known psychological trap called “path dependency.” They don’t feel like their time is being wasted until they take the detour, which feels like “giving up”; until they give up they can feel like the three days they’ve spent is an “investment.”

      The truth is that the time is gone either way, but that’s not how humans are conditioned to think. You should look up the concept of the “dollar auction”, it’s the same thing – people wind up paying $20 for a one-dollar bill due to path dependency.

    • Conformist138 says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m aware of the pit falls of “I’ve put this much into it, so it’ll be a waste if I don’t keep going”, but 3 days is in the relm if ultimate stupidity.

      Sorry China, but with a population that size, it was bound to happen eventually that enough ridiculously stupid people would get stuck in the same spot at the same time. The jam sucks, but to claim staying is the smart option? Oh god, I think these people need to be tested.

  19. dr_drift says:

    I’d advise them to use the carpool lane, but every lane in China’s a carpool lane. (Get it? Eh? It’s a very populous country! See what I did there?)

  20. Dustbunny says:

    I wonder if they’ve brought in Porta Potties because otherwise, things could get really…um…stinky. And messy.

  21. smo0 says:

    I read about this yesterday (day 9) on yahoo news.
    At first my brain read “people stuck in traffic for 9 days…”

    as in… 9 days in the car….

    and I was like… WTF IS WRONG WITH THAT COUNTRY……

    then I read on … and I was like… WTF IS WRONG WITH THAT COUNTRY…

    so there ya have it… the news.

  22. Abradax says:

    Umm, Wang, you were supposed to be here 3 weeks ago!

    Traffic is a nightmare out there.

  23. eccsame says:

    I did RTFA and it doesn’t explain how these people, stuck for days, are managing to survive without sleep.

  24. smo0 says:

    … also… isn’t it part of the communist manifesto to stand in line for everything?

  25. 451.6 says:

    But where are they getting GAS? Even if you’re moving at a snail’s pace, your car is still using gas.

    Now I feel bad about bitching about traffic on the beltway.

  26. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    This sounds like the foundation of a Stephen King novel — ‘The Last 62 Miles’

    Thousands of people trapped on the freeway for days. A government experiment? Perhaps. And when a strange purple gas drifts in, it turns 8 out of every 10 people into ravenous cannibals! How will the other 20% survive…and what will become of them?

  27. Marshmelly says:

    So…are more cars tacking onto the end of this traffic backup knowing very well that they’re going to be there for days? I would think that the cars at the very end would just turn around and go back….but I guess not?

    Also, how does one go to the bathroom…O_O

  28. Lear100 says:

    The U.S. has outsourced traffic jams to China as well. They can do them much cheaper.

  29. milhouse24 says:

    How would you stay awake for 10 days straight? Does the traffic jam stop at night and everyone sleeps?

  30. dush says:

    It’s been going on 10 days but I wonder how long it takes for someone to get from the back of it into the city.

  31. coren says:

    The people shouting down mass transit crack me up. OH THOSE ARE ALL SEMIS TRANSPORTING GOODS


  32. FrugalFreak says:

    Gives a great excuse to miss work.
    Boss I was caught in a traffic jam so that’s why I didn’t come in yesterday.

  33. Duckula22 says:

    This one should successfully keep the Mongols out.

  34. Kahless says:

    This Reminds me of a Dr. WHO episode.

  35. theyoungandthebetrayed says:

    There’s an interesting article on about the real reasons for this traffic jam. Apparently local officials shut down most coal mines in Beijing’s province due to safety issues. Illegal coal mines have sprouted in the neighboring province of Inner Mongolia to provide Beijing with coal. According to csmonitor’s article, this highway that connects Inner Mongolia and Beijing is a favorite among coal-smuggling trucks because it has no inspection checkpoints. This explains why the drivers are choosing to wait it out instead of taking alternate routes: the “extra cost” with taking another route is bribe money, not gas money.

    Shame on CBC News for being misleading, even if inadvertently. The picture accompanying their article is of “a main road in Beijing, China, suffers its own major traffic jam”, not the highway with the 10-day traffic jam. Other websites show true pictures of the traffic jam, a long line of freight trucks.

  36. Not Given says:

    Never get into a ground war in China?

  37. OnePumpChump says:

    When traffic finally starts moving again, a few accidents caused by cars slipping around on human feces will bring it to a halt again.