There was once a time when I only associated China with bicycles and factories.. That hasn’t changed much, but I have learned so much more about this nation since arriving here a year ago. Everyone’s dream is to own a car. More specifically a German made car such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes. To be fair, this dream is echoed around the world in developed and developing economies. The problem here however, is China’s massive population and the practical issues of accommodating this recent surge in China’s wealthy and their demand for cars.
These cars are creating bottleneck traffic throughout all the major cities in China. With 21 million people, Beijing isn’t even China’s largest city, yet the traffic is at times unbelievable. I had never even seen a road 16 or 18 lanes wide before coming to China! Yet even with these monster sized roads, I could go outside at midnight in some places and find traffic comparable to rush hour in any major city around the world.
Now, there are still many bikes too, whether pedal bikes or E-Bikes (electronic bikes), however they are ridden mostly by the people who are yet to reach their dream of owning a car. You see people driving cars through the tiniest of streets that clearly were not designed with 4×4 cars in mind. Yet the status achieved by driving a car makes every driving struggle worthwhile, in the minds of the drivers here.
The only benefit of owning a car here is for ‘face’ value. This means, if people can see you own a car, they think you are more wealthy and you gain some points for respectability. Something I have still yet to understand completely. Owning a car says something about your character? Well, it does here.
How is the traffic where you live?