Traffic about-face seeks to ease congestion in Beijing
Updated: 2013-09-13 02:06
By ZHENG XIN (China Daily)
Beijing's first reversible lane went into trial operation on Chaoyang Road on Thursday night, greatly reducing traffic jams for drivers leaving the downtown area.
However, vehicles traveling into the city center on the road remained snarled during the evening rush.
A reversible lane allows vehicles to travel in either direction to improve traffic flow during rush hours. The lane has overhead traffic lights and signs to tell drivers whether it is open or closed for driving or turning.
"We will study the road conditions and work out better solutions to traffic jams after listening to drivers," said Fu Zhenghua, head of Beijing Public Security Bureau, on Thursday.
The introduction of the reversible lane is part of the capital's efforts to ease congestion during peak hours.
During the unspecified trial period, a 3-km section of Chaoyang Road, from Jingguang Bridge to Ciyunsi Bridge, will operate eastbound only for traffic traveling out of the city center from 5 pm to 8 pm.
This section of the road usually sees 600 to 700 more vehicles traveling east rather than west each hour during the evening rush, according to research by Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
The road has triggered complaints from many drivers over congestion.
"It seems to take me forever to drive home from the office," said Sun Jialin, 32, who works in the Central Business District near Chaoyang Road. "I often have to wait until the evening rush is over or take the subway."
She said she is not sure whether the reversible lane can solve the problem of traffic jams.
Workers have been fitting special traffic signs for the lane since Aug 21. If the pilot project improves traffic flow, more reversible lanes will be opened on major routes, officials said.
Zhang Zhuting, a professor at the Ministry of Transport's Management College, believes the reversible lane can help solve the problem. "The pilot program is worth trying," he said.
Authorities have urged drivers to pay attention to the new traffic signs to ensure they are traveling in the right direction.
The traffic bureau said police will not punish drivers who breach the rules during the first few days of the trial period.
Many other cities in the country, such as Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Shijiazhuang in Hebei province, have opened reversible lanes, which have eased traffic flow.
Ye Lin contributed to this story.
A lane becomes reversible and so does Beijing gridlock for those leaving downtown
Traffic flow is compared, with the opening of the reversible lane on Beijing's Chaoyang Road on Thursday in an attempt to ease congestion. WANG JING / CHINA DAILY