New traffic restrictions will be introduced this Saturday (Jan 30) in and around Sanlitun in an attempt to end the perpetual traffic jam at the intersection of Gongti Beilu and Sanlitun Lu, directly in front of Taikoo Li.
Sanlitun Bar Street will remain open to two-way traffic, but with numerous restrictions on turns onto it and at nearby Changhong Qiao.
Bear with us as we try to explain in words:
The easiest of the changes to explain is the new u-turn restriction at the Third Ring: vehicles traveling east on Gongti Beilu (towards the Third Ring) will now be prohibited from making u-turns at the Changhong Qiao Third Ring Road intersection.
Now for the intersection in front of Taikoo Li:
- First, automobiles traveling east on Gongti Beilu (towards the Third Ring) will be prohibited from making left turns onto Bar Street.
- Second, cars traveling west on Gongti Beilu (away from the Third Ring) will not be allowed to turn left onto Sanlitun Nanlu, which runs south from that intersection past The Bookworm and Courtyard Four towards Chaoyang Hospital and Chaoyang Beilu.
- Third, vehicles traveling north on Sanlitun Nanlu (past The Bookworm and towards Taikoo Li) will not be permitted to go straight onto Sanlitun Bar Street, nor may they turn left. Vehicles at that intersection may only turn right.
- Fourth, vehicles traveling south on Sanlitun Bar Street (past Taikoo Li and towards The Bookworm) will not be permitted to go straight onto Sanlitun Nanlu, nor may they turn left. Vehicles at that intersection may only turn right.
In brief, that means that the only way to reach Sanlitun Bar Street and head north on it by car is to approach from the Third Ring Road, then turn right onto it.
This is all being done to relieve congestion on the already maddening intersection, but one thing’s for sure: it’ll be a nightmare this weekend as everyone and their gege attempts to navigate the intersection the old way, only to find her or himself routed in a direction they care not to go. We shudder to think what all the over-privileged tuhao in their magenta Lamborghinis will do when sad sack traffic cops attempt to tell them they can no longer go that way.
Longer term, we’re wondering if these changes will fix the problem. First of all, it means that there will be a lot of taxi and passenger alighting on the south side of Gongti Beilu, especially on the southeast corner of the intersection. It forces cars wishing to park at either Taikoo Li South, Taikoo Li North, or Yashow to approach from the east, namely the Third Ring Road. And it diverts all embassy and other traffic north towards the Agricultural Exhibition Center for anyone exiting Sanlitun by car.
Bear in mind that an earlier effort to divert all traffic on Sanlitun Bar Street to the north from 6pm to midnight was scrapped after people began ignoring the signs and heading south, even though there’s a police substation right at the northwest corner of the intersection that could have enforced it. We support all efforts to reduce traffic congestion in Beijing, but we’ll remain skeptical until we see this one work.
Bicycle and foot traffic are not affected by the new regulations.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on January 28, 2016