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Speeding from Beijing to Moscow on New Bullet Train

Posted: 10/16/2014 5:23 pm

high speed rail train chinaNobody can say China isn’t ambitious. After boldly announcing plans to build an underwater train that travels from China to the USA, the country has unveiled another large-scale, cross-border infrastructure project: a high-speed rail line from Beijing to Moscow.

China and Russia have signed a four-party agreement that laid the groundwork for the new rail corridor. The trip will cover more than 7,000 kilometers and last two days.

Construction will take 10 years. The first step is to build a rail line between Moscow and Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, Russia.

China has the most extensive network of high-speed trains in the world as well as the highest number of passengers.

Photo:  cmp,hku


Nifty Buckle Popular in China Tricks Cars Into Thinking Seatbelt is Fastened

Posted: 10/15/2014 6:01 pm

seatbelt holderGuangzhou traffic police are ramping up another safety campaign targeting drivers that don’t use seatbelts, a particular problem with the proliferation of a nifty little device that tricks cars into thinking a seatbelt is being used.

seatbelt holderThese devices have the metal fasteners part of the seatbelt, but not the strap. This way the car detects the seatbelt as being fastened, and turns off any warning lights or sounds.

As it is, these fasteners come in a variety styles. Check it out:

seatbelt holderseatbelt holderseatbelt holder

seatbelt holder

Eighty percent of Guangzhou drivers don’t wear seatbelts. The penalty, if caught, is RMB 50.

Photos: gaobe, beishang, safetybelt, jd


Proposed Ban on E-bikes Not Sitting Well With Guangzhou Riders

Posted: 10/14/2014 8:38 pm

e-bike traffic electricGuangzhou residents are furious that the city is proposing to ban electric bikes, which are ubiquitous in the city and help people deliver goods.

Word of the ban has upset a number of Guangzhou residents, with even Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Yang Zhongyi saying it is “simply a joke”.

Delivery services that rely on the use of electric bikes are calling for a reprieve for businesses that make special use of them. Regular bikes are too slow and are only able to carry a fourth of the total weight that an e-bike can.

Water delivery businesses say the ban would “cut off the means to make a living”. A regular bike can’t carry the 9-12 jugs of water weighing 19 kilograms each.

One courier voiced his anger:

On the one hand you need to be environmentally conscious, and on the other hand you need efficiency. Speaking of environmental pollution, these electric bikes don’t pollute the environment. If you don’t let us ride them, how do we raise efficiency? Isn’t this a contradiction?

If adopted, the ban would make Guangzhou the last city in the Pearl River Delta to prohibit the use of the electric bicycle. Zhuhai was the first city to ban e-bikes in 2005, followed by Dongguan in 2007, Foshan in 2008, Shenzhen and Huizhou last year, and Zhongshan this past April. E-bikes will be banned by Zhaoqing and Jiangmen in 2016.

The legislative hearing is planned for November 1 when public opinion will be sought.


Photo: 703804


Beijing Subway to Get More Expensive, You Can Choose by How Much

Posted: 10/13/2014 3:56 pm

public transportation card beijing subway busThe proposal last year to raise the long-established flat fare of RMB 2 for the Beijing subway kick-started a public crisis. Beijing residents complained mercilessly about the unfairness of the raise, citing issues like the poverty gap, traffic gridlock, and urban sprawl.

Now, in a display of openness, Beijing has publicly shared details about the upcoming fare change that includes a choice of different pricing plans.

A flat fare system will not be used for both buses and subways. Instead, a meter system will calculate the cost of each individual commuter’s trip based on the distance traveled, similar to the metro systems in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

An average subway fare is expected to cost between RMB 4.3 to 4.4, while the average bus fare should range between RMB 1.3 to 1.5.

public transportation card beijing subway bus

There will also be discounts for frequent commuters. Those who spend RMB 100 a month on public transportation will receive a 20 percent discount, while those who spend RMB 150 a month will receive 50 percent off.

A number of different pricing plans are being shown to the public to see which one is most palatable. Here’s the first option for the subway:

  • the first 3 kilometers of a trip costs RMB 2
  • an additional 3-6 kilometers will cost an additional RMB 3
  • for a 6-18 kilometer trip, each 6 kilometers (discounting the previously mentioned base amount) will cost an additional RMB 1
  • for an 18-42 kilometer trip, each 12 kilometers (discounting the previously mentioned base amount) will cost an additional RMB 1
  • for trips over 42km, each 18 kilometers (discounting the previously mentioned base amount) will cost an additional RMB 1
  • there is no upper limit on how high a fare can get

Here’s the second option:

  • the first 6 kilometers of a trip costs RMB 3
  • a trip lasting 6-12 kilometers will cost RMB 4
  • for trips between 12-32 kilometers, there is an additional RMB 1 for each 10 kilometers  (discounting the previously mentioned base amount)
  • for trips over 32km, there is an additional RMB 1 for each additional 20 kilometers  (discounting the previously mentioned base amount)
  • there is no upper limit on how high a fare can get

And if you don’t know what you’re paying for, here’s what riding the Beijing subway looks like:

beijing subwayPhotos: iFeng, Beijing Youth Report (2)


Chinese Circumvent Ban on Electric Bikes by Removing a Wheel

Posted: 09/28/2014 10:48 am

electric unicycle

Electric bikes have been banned in many cities across China in recent years, leaving creative residents to come up with a way around the law. While some residents have gone back to traditional modes of transportation like bicycles and public buses, people in Foshan, Guangdong have circumvented the ban by subtracting a wheel.

electric unicycle

The electric unicycle has become a growing trend with a younger generation of male Chinese consumers over the past two years. Retail stores are selling the “new-styled” vehicle to a growing market of people in Guangzhou, Foshan, Chancheng, Nanhai and Shunde. They first appeared on the market in the United States in 2001.

Huazai, the manager of one such e-unicycle store near Baihua Plaza, tells Foshan Online of the vehicles specifications. Priced between RMB 1,800 and RMB 5,000, the electric unicycle weighs about 10 kilograms, can recharge its battery within an hour, and has a total travel distance of 15 kilometers. With a top speed of 16 kilometers per hour, it goes just as fast as a bicycle.

Huazai said the e-unicycle is easy to use, convenient to carry, and easy to park. This makes it perfect for short commutes to and from work.

electric unicycle

Though riding one looks like a precarious proposition, using an electric unicycle is simplified through the use of an onboard gyroscope. Controlling this vehicle is all done intuitively by shifting one’s body weight: leaning forward is go, back is brake, and steering is leaning in either direction, similar to how a Segway works. Huazai said that anyone can master using it in a couple of days.

So when too you are faced with prohibitive laws that seemingly restrict what you are able to do, take a cue from Chinese ingenuity and embrace your limitations. Where two wheels can’t go, one wheel is not covered by existing regulations.

electric unicycle


Photos: Foshan Daily


A Surefire Way To Stop Red Light Runners? Roll Out a Temporary Wall

Posted: 09/24/2014 8:42 pm

traffic gate fuzhou 04Where foreigners see stifling limitations in China’s opulence of rules and regulations, locals see opportunity and innovation.  Chinese prosper under an overbearing hand by finding the loopholes and backdoor avenues that allow for unregulated rewards. It’s long been known in Chinese as “getting through the cracks”.

But that’s for complicated rules, though. And sometimes, there’s no getting through the cracks. Just ask drivers and cyclists in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.

traffic gate fuzhou 04

When they used to run red lights, a police officer would remind them to obey the rules. When they didn’t, the community took the next step, one common throughout Chinese history: erect a wall. That’s right, a collapsible metal one meter high fence blocks traffic when the light turns red, reports Caijing. The collapsible gate is used during rush hour and is controlled by a traffic warden.

If this doesn’t work to prevent red light runners, we’d imagine stronger measures will have to take place, like doing away with the road entirely.

traffic gate fuzhou 04traffic gate fuzhou

Photos: Caijing


Beijing Taxi Fares Among the Cheapest in the World

Posted: 09/24/2014 3:25 pm

beijing taxi gridlock traffic jamBeijing, once famous for its garlic-smelling cabs, has the cheapest taxi fares in the world among major international metropolitan cities, according to Focus, a German publication. Beijing taxis only charge 3.87 Euros (RMB 29.8, around $4.97) for a 10 kilometre trip.

At the other end is Tokyo, where taking a cab is downright prohibitive. A 10 kilometre ride in the world’s largest city is 25.39 Euros (RMB 200.1, approximately $32.64), 6.7 times more than Beijing.

The taxi services of other world cities fall in between. A ten kilometer taxi trip in London costs 22.5 Euros (around $28.93); in New York City, it costs the equivalent of 13.98 Euros (approximately $17.97); and in Paris, such a trip will set you back 12.20 Euros (about $15.68).

Wang Limei, secretary of the Chinese National Raod Transportation association, explained that these European and American cities have higher taxi fares because “foreigners have higher salaries”.

Traffic expert Zhang Haitao said Beijing fares couldn’t ever get as high as those overseas:

From downtown Washington to the airport, it will cost about $100. This is too expensive for locals, and removes the effectiveness of (the taxi) by its price.

Caijing explained that taxis in these other countries are used as an emergency measure, and not regularly used for commuting like in Beijing. Residents of the USA and Europe also take fewer taxis because they have a convenient and effective public transportation system. (The fact that many Europeans and North Americans also own cars wasn’t mentioned).

Caijing went on to say each of these world-class cities have subway stations within a 100 to 200 meter walk, and that it is even convenient to take luggage on the subway .

At the end of it all, you get what you pay for. You get cheap fares in Beijing, only to sit in the worst traffic in the country.


Photo: roll.msn


China Marks International Car Free Day With Massive Traffic Jams

Posted: 09/23/2014 5:07 pm

car free day international China cities traffic jam

China has a strange way of celebrating Car Free Day.

Yesterday was the day people were supposed to ride public transit or bicycle to their destination, but instead major cities in China saw huge traffic jams. The worst were in Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, and Zhengzhou, reports CCTV.

These photographs show traffic around China yesterday during Car Free Day. Organizers of the annual event say the slogan is “our streets, our choice”. It looks like Chinese city dwellers have definitely made theirs.

car free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jamcar free day international China cities traffic jam

It’s not all bad, though. In a sign of development, Chinese people have finally realized the dream of complaining about traffic while sitting idle behind the wheel. 

Photos: CCTV,


Guangzhou’s Subway Map To Soon Look Like Tokyo’s

Posted: 09/17/2014 6:07 pm

guangzhou foshan metro map 2018 subway

To call this tentative plan for the 2018 combined subway systems of Guangzhou and Foshan ”ambitious” would be to describe “humongous” as “partially hefty”.

By 2018, the Guangzhou and Foshan subway systems will have seven interchange stations, Foshan will boast a total of eight subway lines, and Guangzhou will have a staggering 23.

To put things in perspective, the Guangzhou Metro currently has nine lines whereas Foshan only has one.

This map shows lines that are planned for construction and those currently being developed. As reported by the Zhujiang Times, not all lines are 100 percent confirmed. (Click here for a high resolution map)

Guangzhou has three new lines currently being developed in conjunction with the extension of three existing lines, while Foshan is working on two new lines with one line extended.

Guangzhou metro long term plan map

The 2018 map is very similar to the “long-term plan” posted by the Urban Planning Bureau of Guangzhou back in 2010. (Seen above; click here for the high resolution version)

We’ll have to note that completed subway lines 2 through 8 for the Foshan Metro are actually scheduled for 2020 and beyond, so it doesn’t look like everything will be in place by 2018. In any case, you’d better charge up your cellphone for some serious subway commuting in the near future.

Photos: Zhujiang Times, Wikipedia


The Days This Month When Beijing Traffic Will Become Downright Awful

Posted: 09/2/2014 1:00 pm

beijing traffic jam gridlockLong ago, benevolent leaders in China would inform their subjects of which days of the year were optimal for sowing seeds and harvesting crops. That tradition continues in 2014, but the focus has changed to something much more modern: now leaders are informing citizens which days to avoid Beijing traffic.

While the capital is already infamous for its traffic congestion, September is expected to be absolute worst month due to the Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day, the beginning of the school year, fall promotions in malls, and visiting relatives.

In fact, the Beijing Municipal Commission on Transport can even pinpoint particular days to avoid. They are September 4, 5, 15, 22, 26 and 28, 29 and 30.

To try to combat the girdlock, local authorities will be trying a bunch of different strategies including launching a Public Transportation Promotion Week, No Car Days, new private bus lines, and shortening the length between subway cars to just three minutes on Beijing Metro Line 6 between 5pm and 7pm,

[h/t WSJ China Real Time]

Photo: etu6

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