China’s highways so jammed during major holidays, travelers work out during long waits
This year, the Mid-Autumn Day, a traditional Chinese harvest festival based on Chinese lunar calendar, happens to fall on September 30, one day before the Chinese National Day, which means the usual seven-day Golden Week celebration for the National Day is be prolonged by one more day. In the mean time, China has announced that all toll roads in the country will be temporarily toll-free to motor vehicles with fewer than seven seats from September 30 to October 7. Given that almost all expressways in China charge rather steep tolls – One has to pay 600 yuan, or US$95 as toll fees for using the 1,262-km (788 miles) Beijing-Shanghai expressway – the announcement has prompted tens of millions of private car owners to hit the road and take advantage of both the freebie and the long vacation.
The coming-out party on the national scale has effectively paralyzed 24 major expressways in 16 provinces, rendering the arteries into literally gigantic parking lots. To put that in perspective, a reporter with Morning Post spent 5 hours on his trip from Shanghai to Hangzhou, a city 170 kilometers (106 miles) away, and it took another woman 10 hours to finish her 305-km (190 miles) journey from Shanghai from Nanjing.
Travellers stranded on the road got so bored and disillusioned by the jams that they came out of their cars for fresh air and even exercised right next to their cars, by doing push-ups, kicking shuttlecock and even playing tennis, to kill time.
Although many of the photos are hilarious, the traffic congestion can be deadly in some cases. On Sunday, after having spent three hours on the road, a 25-week pregnant woman who set out with her husband to visit her family only moved 25 kilometers, when her water broke. The emergency lanes was also taken up by cars that tried to cut corners, which prevented the ambulance from getting to them. In the end, she miscarried.
“Small-size motor passenger vehicles with seven seats or less can pass free of charge from 12:00 a.m, September 30, to 12:00 a.m. October 8,” A well-meant policy has misfired and is now widely criticized by scholars as the most stupid and ill-considered one.
September 30, 7 a.m., near a toll station in Shenzhen.
September 30, 7 a.m., near a toll station in Shenzhen, drivers come out for a stretch of arms and legs.
Or to walk their dogs.
Or to play tennis.
Or to do push-ups.
Or to kick jianzi (shuttlecock).
The expressway management companies in Shanghai had to bring in many portable restrooms to tackle with public urination and excrement as a result of congestion.
He uses binoculars to see how far the congestion stretches.
This is what the expressways look like after the traffic has been cleared.