China’s idea of the future

China is dreaming up some pretty radically innovative ideas for the future of it’s cities. The latest idea is this “bridge bus,” which I’m not even sure exactly how to describe. Here’s an attempt:

Basically you take a bus and make it 15′ high or so – just a hair shorter than whatever the standard clearance for overpasses is. Then, you raise up the floor in the middle, so there’s about seven feet of clear space under the bus. Now, you position the wheels to the extreme outside edges of the bus frame, so there’s effectively a box-shaped void under the bus which is big enough for passenger cars to drive through.

Now your bus can cruise around, hovering above on special lanes that are “car-only”, while regular size passenger cars can free – flow underneath.

Check this link for the original story, and a video (in Chinese, but with helpful animations that don’t really need narration).

My gut reaction is that this kind of thing wouldn’t work out so well – but apparently they’re going to give it a shot anyway, and build 186 km of these special busways in Beijing.

This is really remarkable when you think about it. In Houston we had to fight tooth and nail to build a 7mi starter line. In China it looks like they actually grasp the idea that transportation isn’t worth building at all if you’re not going to actually take it to enough destinations for it to be useful, so their “starter project” to “experiment” with the idea is 186km in length…

186km is 115.5 mi – or almost three times Houston’s “ambitious” phase two light-rail plan. That’s Beijing’s idea of a “starter” project.

Whatever happened to the America that could be bold and pioneering and build big and meaningful infrastructure? We need to find that spirit and revive it soon, or we risk a future where America is irrelevant and a communist state controls the world.

Posted: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 12:12 pm
Categories: think
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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  1. China’s population is roughly 10X that of the USA. Mostly, they live in cities that are of comparable or less density than America’s east-coast cities. The Chinese population does not have as deep of an affinity with the automobile as the US. (The factoid that the growing middle class is buying automobiles is countered by the growing environmentally conscious youth that will choose transit) In fact, they have an expectation that the state will provide transportation just as they provide any other utility. This all adds up to a near-ideal situation for public transit and intracity rail. So, that 10X as many people need to traverse 10X as much area means China has a crushing demand for transit and will try any good idea.

    Two little things I notice in the video: They used modeling software that shows western-hemisphere body types. The vehicle’s entry/exit stairs show that persons with walking disabilities were not considered.

  2. I think this is a hoax like the hotelicopter some time back.

  3. Where are you going to put street lights, eighty feet up?

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