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Key To Olympics Success -- Moving People Around Beijing

Seattle Medium, News Report, Chris B. Bennett Posted: Aug 08, 2008

The people of Beijing effectively utilize four different ways to travel by car, public transportation, bicycle, and foot. Yet, because of the massive population of the city, all forms of travel can take a significant amount of time. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is prevalent throughout the city during high-traffic hours, and bicyclist must navigate through the same streets as the cars even though they have a separate bike lane to use.

With nearly 3.3 million motor vehicles on the road and nearly 4.9 million drivers, traffic in Beijing can be very difficult to navigate and with the Olympics Games starting this week, and with an estimated 500,000 850,000 additional people trying to navigate the city, congestion is sure to be a problem.

In anticipation for the Olympics, the city of Beijing has added three lines to its light rail system including the Olympic line (#8), which runs along the core Olympic venues for the games, and the Airport line. The new additions bring new technology to the overall system, 30 additional train stations, and additional 68 kilometers in coverage area.

Each train has six cars and can carry up to 2,400 people at a time, and with the trains running not more than 3 4 minutes a part during peak times hundreds of thousands of people can be transported through the core of Beijing in a very short period of time.

Utilizing the train system to get from the airport to the center of Beijing is the best choice. It takes a person only 16 minutes to get from the airport to the center of Beijing by train, but takes upwards of 40 minutes by car, under the best traffic conditions.

Television screens throughout the trains and in the concourses of the train terminals will allow people to keep up with Olympic action while they are in transit.

The city of Beijing has also implemented a measure to keep up to half of the vehicles in Beijing off of the streets during the Olympics. Vehicles with license plates that end in an even number will be allowed to travel through the core of Beijing on even number days, and likewise for vehicles ending in odd numbers of odd number calendar day. While this measure has been attributed to help reduce pollution during the Olympic Games, it is a very important measure to help improve the flow of traffic during the games. During the Olympics, special Olympic lanes similar to car pool lanes will be utilized by official Olympic vehicles to help get athletes and officials to and from the Olympic Venues. However, before the Olympics, these lanes were used by all vehicles on the roadway, so by taking them away would create even more traffic congestion if the vehicle restriction measure was not put into place.

Beijing also has a state-of-the-art traffic management system. Their traffic command center has integrated 22 technical systems that help to monitor traffic, control the flow of traffic, information, and dispatching of traffic command resources to address issues anywhere in the system. This 24-hour a day, real-time system automatically detects traffic accidents, detects congestion and re-routes vehicles in the system, and give the exact location of police officers in the system.

The command center has 98 big screen monitors and helps officials keep track of all traffic developments in the system.

Police units can arrive at the scene of an accident within five minutes anywhere in the system, says Shi Yan, deputy director of the Beijing Traffic Police Command Center. It [the system] provides macro-control over traffic within the whole city.

The system sounds too good to be true. However, seeing is believing and after seeing the system in action from the Command Center, and then seeing it in action on the street, by shear coincidence, the following morning the money spent on the system was well spent.

With all of the resources that have been spent on building Beijings capacity to move people around the city for the Olympics, attendees of the games should find getting around Beijing an enjoyable experience if they pick the right mode of transportation.

There are a total of 37 venues for the Beijing Olympic Games - 12 are new stadium, 11 have been remodeled or expanded, and 8 have been constructed for temporary use during the Olympics. Six of the new structures are in the participating Olympic cities of Tianjin, Shanghai, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao,Shenyan and Hong Kong.

The National Stadium, or Birds Nest as it is affectionately called, will host the track and field events and the opening and closing ceremonies. The Birds Nest is an open stadium with no pillars inside of it, so every seat has an unobstructed view of the action. It has a seating capacity of 91,000 and is made out of 110,000 tons of steel.

The National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube, was built with energy conservation in mind, as the exterior bubbles let in lots of natural light and are pumped up with air. At night the Water Cube resembles a transparent water tank. The facility was built with funds donated by Chinese people from around the world, and has a seating capacity of 17,000.

The Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium has three floors underground and four floors above ground, and has a seating capacity of 18,000. The Basketball Gymnasium is ready for professional basketball as it meets all NBA standards.

The Olympic Village will house 17,000 athletes and coaches during the Olympic Games. The units have been pre-sold to the public and residents will move in after the Olympics.

Related Articles:

China Olympics Human Rights Act Passed in Congress

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