In urban areas in China, roads are very congested. Especially in the old areas of cities, where the roads are narrow and were not built to handle the car traffic that didn’t exist years ago.
But in the newly developed areas of cities like in Suzhou and Wuxi, roads are much wider with multiple lanes, I didn’t see any congestion.
In my experience, freeways or highways in China are really free in the sense of traffic flow. However, they are not free in the financial sense. Actually driving on highways is very costly.
The 90-minute driving from my parents’ home in Suzhou to the Shanghai Pudong International Airport costs 180 RMB (ca. $26) in toll charge. It is more than two days of income for an average worker in China.
I think the hefty tolls on freeways is the biggest reason why freeways in China are not as congested as in the US.
I took the following photos because of the impressive bridges. They also show the free traffic on freeways.
On my way from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to my parents’ home in Suzhou. No vehicles in front of us at 1 pm, Saturday, May 29, 2010.
On my way from Suzhou to Ningbo, 3 pm, Friday, June 4, 2010. The Hangzhou Bay Bridge, at 35.673 km (22 mi) in length, is the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world.
On my way from Ningbo to Putuoshan (Mount Putuo), 4 pm, Saturday, June 5, 2010. I passes several bridges because Putuoshan is one of the 1000 islands of the Zhoushan Archipelago in the East China Sea. Newly constructed bridges are connecting the islands.