Driving in China: a man sees red

Markus Stier
Driving in China
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C hen Dong curses, and he can do that very well in German . He studied German. Nothing is moving forward on the second ring road. It is late morning, but Beijing does not adhere to fixed rush hour times. 'The traffic has gotten worse and worse over the past three years,' he complains.

It may be that the Chinese are completely different from us, but there is one thing they do not differ in a bit: when they become wealthy, they buy a car. China is the largest growth market in the world. 100 national manufacturers alone cavort in the Middle Kingdom. But you only buy their goods when there is not enough more. Anyone who has achieved something buys a German car and an SUV for city traffic. The law of the fittest applies on China's roads. Whoever drives the larger or more expensive car has right of way. Connoisseurs warn against large, dark limousines whose chauffeurs act as if they are above the law.

Bicycles are rare, so are high speeds

Bicycles have become rare in the capital, even the rickshaw drivers are switching to electric drives on a large scale. Anyone who is on the move on two wheels or on foot is actually not considered a road user and has to see how they get along. China wants to get faster and is paralyzing itself. The average speed on Beijing's streets is 25 km /h, half as much at peak times. The bike is becoming competitive again. Five million cars fight their way through the traffic of the 18 million metropolis every day. There would be a lot more if the regional government had not limited new registrations a few years ago. 20,000 new cars are added every month.

The coveted license plates will be raffled off in a lottery. You are entitled to drive the car every other day. It may be that the god of the west ordered people to rest on the seventh day, but that is not the god of the Chinese either. 'Sundays are the most unpredictable. Everyone is allowed to go out on the street,' says Fong Lei, who as a photographer in the capital constantly has to drive his small SUV to the Summer Palace in the west or the Forbidden City in the center.

Today is Sunday. Let's see. Of the five ring roads, at least the fourth is not a good choice. But immediately it's off to Jingmi Road, which leads from the northeast to the city center.At least two lanes are also turned off in one lane. If you stand behind the back, you never get there.

There are also traffic rules

Of course there are also traffic regulations in China, but they don't even care Police. If necessary, overtaking on the motorway at 120 km /h on the hard shoulder if the three official lanes are occupied. Nobody adheres to a right-hand drive law. And so everyone jumps back and forth between the tracks to find the best gap that needs to be sought with the foresight of a chess player and the tough duel of a Shaolin monk. Section one of the unofficial traffic regulations reads: If you hesitate, you lose.

The anarchy on the streets has its charm. Those who like to drive can feel freer in China. But because everyone else is also taking some liberties, the crowd takes a lot of nerves. If you want to relax, sit in the back. Apparently every second taxi driver in Beijing has potency problems.

Papperlapapp. Is everything psychosomatic. You have to see the whole thing in a sporty way. Dongshi West Road is dense, so turn right in a flash and then left again into a parallel street. Beware, a mother with a child crosses the street on a moped without looking. Should she be in someone's way, they'll honk. In fact, the Chinese tend to rely on their ears in traffic. Horns are honored in all situations without anyone becoming aggressive. After a short hello-here-come-I-horn, the swivel into the narrow parallel street was successful. It goes on for 500 meters to the next traffic light.

To alleviate the nervousness there, clocks are attached to the traffic light systems that count down the time until the next green phase. But pole position is no guarantee of a good start either. Ten seconds beforehand, a dozen cyclists feel their way into the intersection, even though traffic is still moving from the other direction. The first competitors roll in five seconds before the green; if you start on time, you will be sixth at most.

Alleys are to be avoided

Suddenly everything stands still - and the Beijing novice behind a smelly truck. Well wait, we can do something else. The idea of ​​using the narrow streets of one of the old town districts known as Hutong was not so clever. Many streets only offer space for rickshaws. It zigzags between plastic chairs from street restaurants.

So the stranger gets to know a touch of the real Beijing. Suddenly a large road appears on the horizon, where the traffic flows freely. On the six-lane Road of Eternal Peace, you pass the Mao mausoleum and the entrance to the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace.

Before that, the tour groups gather. Most of the visitors are by buscame from the provinces because they can only dream of having their own car. But they do practice at the gate of the former imperial palace - and stand in a 100 meter long queue.

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