|30 years ago, Shanghai had no subway, today its 588 km of tracks make it the most extensive metro system in the world and one of the most used, with 3 billion passengers per year|
The Chinese street
|A common Chinese street: tons of streets, nice sidewalk with guidelines for the blind and tons of tiny shops lining it|
|This street leaves 4 travel lanes for cars in the center, with bike/scooter lanes and parking lanes on the side, separated from travel lanes by medians covered with bushes and trees|
|A wide sidewalk being used as supplementary parking despite parking being allowed on the street|
|This bozo parked his car right on the guidelines for the blind|
|Other example of formal parking on the sidewalk, taking almost all of it|
|People walking on the shoulder of an extremely wide urban road, almost highway-like|
The Chinese street grid, or the megabloc
|Example of megabloc, a very big residential bloc-sized development is bordered by straight streets|
|A Chinese hutong in Beijing, doors in the walls often open on small courtyards, with houses built inside walls located at the property line|
|A high metal fence surrounds this cluster of residential high-rises, cutting off pedestrian traffic between it and the street|
|Here, they use an unbroken wall of 3-story buildings at the edge of the cluster to wall it off from the street|
|In this case, they have a wall of narrow store-fronts all around the apartment cluster|
|An older neighborhood with residential walls around mid-rise residential blocs|
|This isn't a military base, it's just a regular entry point into an apartment cluster in one of China' megablocs|
- It avoids having traffic running through residential areas, as they have no through street within them, which makes areas safer and quieter (considering the constant melody of cars honking in China, that is not to be neglected).
- It channels stores and offices onto the periphery road, all these roads forming a regular grid that are highly conducive to surface transit. Indeed, buses have no alternative but to simply travel on these roads in straight lines, without detours, which also makes it easy for people to navigate the bus system: just go to the major road and take buses in the direction you want to go to.
- It limits the number of intersections pedestrians walking along the major roads will face, since there tends to be only one of them every 300 to 500 meters.
- It creates a street grid with a very low number of through streets, which results in a dilemma where you can either have small streets that face near constant congestion (terrible for buses too) or very wide streets that act as barriers to non-motorized travel.
- Without footpaths and bikepaths through the megablocs, this can also impose detours for short-distance trips, which makes ownership of cars and scooters much more attractive.
- Though the low number of streets makes for better transit lines that are easier to understand, they also can create bus bunching and congestion because bus lines have relatively low capacities. In China, most buses tend to be midibuses, which are shorter and narrower than the usual North American bus, and I never saw any articulated bus (though I did see and rode a double-decker, which was bouncy as all hell). So it's not unusual to have 4 or 5 buses following each other, each being of a different overlapping line.
|4 buses bunched up together|