China-made ‘zip­per truck’ eases traf­fic con­ges­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

JI­NAN — The cap­i­tal of Shan­dong province, Ji­nan, started us­ing a “zip­per truck” this week to al­ter­nate traf­fic lanes dur­ing rush hours and ease con­ges­tion.

The orange-and-white truck, re­fit­ted by the Qian­jin Ma­chin­ery Fac­tory in He­bei province, can move the me­dian bar­rier on Lyuyou Road while trav­el­ing at 8 kilo­me­ters per hour.

Ac­cord­ing to the driver, equip­ment on the ve­hi­cle’s front-left lifts bar­rier seg­ments off the road, and an S-shaped con­veyor chan­nel in­side the ve­hi­cle trans­ports them to the other side.

Lyuyou Road is gen­er­ally con­fig­ured with three west­bound lanes and three east­bound ones. In half an hour, de­pend­ing on the time of day, the zip­per truck con­verts the road to a 4-2 for­ma­tion.

The lanes are re­aligned be­tween 5 pm and 7 pm on week­days.

“The ad­di­tional lane is most help­ful dur­ing evening rush hours,” said Wang Wenhu, head of in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion for the Ji­nan traf­fic po­lice.

The me­dian bar­ri­ers, es­sen­tially a chain of linked bar­ri­ers, were cus­tom-made for the truck. Each weighs more than 50 kilo­grams. They are linked in chains of 20 or 30.

“Traf­fic is usu­ally heavy in one di­rec­tion and light in the other dur­ing rush hours. The zip­per trucks on the Golden Gate Bridge made us green with envy,” said Zhang Weimin, a Ji­nan-based driver, speak­ing of the bridge over the en­trance to San Fran­cisco Bay in the United States.

“Now that we have our own zip­per, the traf­fic con­ges­tion is much re­duced,” Zhang said.

Many cities ex­pe­ri­ence traf­fic con­ges­tion. The num­ber of cars in China has grown as­tro­nom­i­cally since the turn of the cen­tury.

Wang said the zip­per truck and ad­justable lanes pro­vide a new method for cities to in­crease road ca­pac­ity and ease traf­fic.

“The Ji­nan traf­fic po­lice will as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness of the zip­per truck, and if it passes muster there will be zip­per lanes on more ma­jor roads,” he said.

In many cities like Bei­jing, Nan­jing and Chang­sha, the idea of re­lo­cat­ing traf­fic lanes dur­ing com­mute pe­ri­ods is not new. But in the past, the traf­fic lanes were re­lo­cated man­u­ally, which was la­bo­ri­ous and time­con­sum­ing.

“Work­ers needed hours per kilo­me­ter to move the traf­fic bar­ri­ers,” said Wang Le, an of­fi­cial at the Shen­zhen traf­fic author­ity.

In­spired by the zip­per trucks on the Golden Gate Bridge, Shen­zhen, Guang­dong province, put a sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle on the road in Oc­to­ber at a cost of 1.7 mil­lion yuan ($250,000).

Wu Sikang, di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment re­search for the city govern­ment, said man­ag­ing larger cities with lim­ited man­power was next to im­pos­si­ble.

“We must rely on tech­nol­ogy and come up with new man­age­ment meth­ods,” Wu said.


Fi­nal­ists com­pete in a cold-en­durance match at an ocean park in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Satur­day. Con­tes­tants first had to sit on an ice bench. Those who sat long­est then en­tered the pen­guin house — in­side which the tem­per­a­ture mea­sured -5 C — and knelt in an icy box. Li Gang (left) won the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter spend­ing 22 min­utes in the house and was awarded 3,000 yuan ($450).


A “zip­per truck” re­as­signs traf­fic lanes to ease con­ges­tion in Ji­nan, Shan­dong province, ear­lier this month.

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