■ 22:58 (UTC+08:00), 29 JUN 2018 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING
If you were travelling clockwise on the 4th Ring Road and wanted to head north (coming in from the west) at Wanquan River Bridge (Wanquanhe Qiao), previously you had to use the slip road and wait for maybe two or three sets of traffic lights. They were timed so badly, you could have started with some kind of artwork masterpiece just by using moving your gearstick around as if it was a paintbrush! (I refer, of course, to those of us with proper cars, not those artificialised automated gear change systems.)
The good news is that the city authorities finally installed a separate “hook” bridge (because when you draw it on paper, that’s what it appears to be) avoiding traffic queues — and that bridge opened to traffic today. It was still artistic as in it had plenty of curves, but now your wheels, not gearstick, would move like a paintbrush. The very bad news was that it was truly poorly designed. Of course to remove the “hook” bridge would be suicidal, but still, City Hall better think hard about how projects are to be completed with grace!
The sign already tells you it’s going to be a bit of a ride as you pilot your car first heading south, then east briefly, and finally, north — where you intended to go anyway! (Since this isn’t a stack interchange, there is no way to head straight due north via northwest.)
Exit 44. However, very short notice is given as to which lane you are supposed to use — before the “hook” bridge begins. To get hooked, keep left!
…As it makes very clear. But where’s the English?
Step 1: Head south.
These buildings may be referable as maybe “Sino-Brutalist” buildings, except for in this communist country, they appear, at least on the outside, as “sprucier” than their capitalist counterparts.
Step 2: Head east, briefly.
Choose third or even second gear here. This is when they make a huge curve.
Step 3: Head north.
Bits and bobs of Zhongguancun West flash by within seconds.
Unfortunately this is where the city designers slept on the project.
Yes, make no mistake about it. They were stupid enough to design this “hook” bridge so that “merges” metres short of another slip road, this one stupidly back on to the same 4th Ring Road you got out from! (Actually, this could’ve provided you with a second chance!)
Slight close-up. Apart from the infernal weather ahead, also the likelihood for some seriously infernal traffic queues.
Now I am not suggesting someone rips this bridge into shreds and redoes this again. It’s been done, it is infinitely better than no bridge. But still, next time City Hall starts on a project like this, we need people with properly-functioning brains. You can go bald or have your whole head turn white as you suffer from exhaustion, but if it’s not going to make sense, we’ll need some serious modifications. ■ ■ ■