Bangkok may be famous for its infamous traffic, but China’s city roads are getting increasingly crowded as the country’s urbanization accelerates. Traffic congestion has become a major headache for urban planners and commuters alike, not only in first-tier cities but also in some second- and third-tier cities.
In Beijing, a megacity of over 20 million people, a daily commute to work takes 52 minutes, the worst of all Chinese cities, according to an annual research report published Wednesday by the sustainable development strategy research group under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The report, titled China’s New-Urbanization Report 2012, calculated the average time urban residents spend commuting to their workplaces in 50 Chinese cities whose population are all in excess of one million.This year, the research group included traffic delays in the average commute time while last year it only included time from a congestion-free commute, a scenario unlikely to happen in China’s crowded cities.On average, the report found, people spent 39 minutes travelling to work. In densely populated Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, passengers wasted 14, 12 and 11 minutes in traffic jams.The research also estimated that the 15 Chinese cities with worst traffic flows suffered a whopping loss of 1 billion yuan every day as traffic jams had greatly reduced their efficiency.According to the report, the country’s urbanization rate reached 51.3 percent in 2011, meaning half of China’s over 1.3 billion citizens have swarmed to cities.Meanwhile, the fast growth in the wealth of Chinese people also fuelled the purchase of private cars. Official statistics show that China currently has 114 million cars on its roads, trailing only the United States. Car ownerships exceed one million in seventeen Chinese cities and two million in five cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Shanghai, presenting a difficult challenge for urban road networks.