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Monday, July 15, 2024

Speeding @1km/hour

Ask anyone in Los Angeles where they are and the automatic answer will be, “in traffic.”

Go to Bangkok and try and take a tuk tuk anywhere and you’ll hear the same joke, “Day no traffic, day no Bangkok.”

Head to Bali and hear the tired excuse why the taxi won’t turn on the meter, “Too much traffic boss.”

I’m sure there’s a top ten list of the worst traffic jams you’ll end up in before you die so I’ll pass on putting together a list and skip right to number one.

Welcome to Ulaanbaatar where the pollution and ice cold winters seem tolerable compared to the traffic. It doesn’t matter that there are traffic lights not because people ignore them anyway but because there are simply too many cars and not enough road. Ulaanbaatar has no mass transit system unless you include the busses that are the worst traffic offenders of them all. It doesn’t have motorbikes like Saigon for obvious reasons. And the only car pool lane is when two vehicles magically occupy the same space at the same time.

Don’t believe it’s that bad? Think your city is worse? Well, you are wrong.  The government here, recognizing the traffic is out of control, has passed a measure charging drivers 50,000 MNT a month, around $26, just to drive in the city. While some countries and cities have similar ordinances like rotating license plates for certain days of the week (they have that here too), the difference is that this measure is going to have absolutely no effect. Everyone has one place to go- the city center and there are only a couple of roads to get here. So now drivers will be upset they are stuck in traffic and even more upset that they are paying to park in it.

The only weakness in my argument is the definition of the word traffic itself. Traffic according to Google is “vehicles moving on a public highway.” The term parking lot according to Bing is “a car park.” Since my car was in park for two hours and the only way I reached my destination was being air lifted by helicopter, I don’t know if it can be argued that I was ever subject to traffic.

Even those fed up with the traffic lot were unable to flee the city as the only road to the airport was closed, leaving them stuck where? You guessed it, in traffic.

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