On Monday, the BBC reported on a 62-mile traffic jam in China, northwest of Beijing, where vehicles had been almost at a standstill for nine days. Naturally, the internet was fascinated. Doctor Who references were made. Personal commutes seemed less terrible by comparison. According to that BBC story, Chinese state TV reported that everything had already returned to normal.
This does not appear to actually be the case. Unless, of course, you consider "normal" to be "truck drivers playing cards underneath their immobile rigs". The Associated Press sent a couple of Chinese correspondents out to the traffic jam Monday afternoon, and they returned with some great photos, tales of local residents gouging drivers on food and water sales, and the downright heartwarming fact that there have been no reports of road rage incidents. Some drivers reported having been stuck in the traffic jam for five days.
I wish the correspondents had been able to tell the story of how they got into and out of the jam themselves. I'm imagining a dirt bike was involved.
Sadly, it doesn't sound as though that impractical-yet-awesome-looking mega-bus on stilts would even be of much use in alleviating a traffic jam like this. Most of the vehicles involved aren't passenger cars, but shipping trucks, many hauling coal from Inner Mongolia.
The photos taken by the AP are incredible, but you'll have to follow the link to view them, as the AP tends to believe that fair use isn't and goes after blogs re-posting any of their content, even when it's praising them and pushing the links.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.