View a slide show of the world's worst traffic
Claim to fame: A 60-mile traffic jam on an expressway heading into Beijing has lasted since Aug. 19 and might continue for another month
Life in the slow lane: The ongoing jam on National Expressway 110, which links Beijing and North China's Hebei province, caused by construction and a number of accidents, has shocked the world. But Beijingers are used to epic-scale gridlock. Despite the city's six surrounding ring roads, numerous expressways, and the government's restrictions on car use, urban planners simply can't keep up with the massive influx of new cars that many of Beijing's approximately 20 million increasingly wealthy people (many of whom have never driven a car before) have recently bought. Some 248,000 new cars were registered in the first four months of 2010, according to the Beijing municipal tax office, a rate of 2,100 new cars per day.
Driving in Beijing, which came in first on IBM's latest survey of "commuter pain" among major world cities, is a truly frustrating experience: 69 percent of Beijing motorists admitted that on occasion they have just given up and gone home, 84 percent claimed traffic affected work or school performance, and the average commuter suffers through almost an hour of traffic just commuting to work. The city is pinning its hopes on one out-of-the-box solution: an enormous, solar-powered bus that literally drives over traffic.