The waiting game: Sanlitun, The Place

Oh, traffic jam got more cars than a beach got sand.
– “Too Much”, Dave Matthews Band

Look for a new four-foot-high lane divider on Sanlitun Bar Street to slow traffic to a snail’s place. The divider, which separates the Swire complex from the neon-lit bar strip, offers only two openings – a crosswalk near the 3.3 Building and a turning lane near new Nali Studio. This means pedestrians will be crowded into a few bottlenecks, parking will be much more difficult, and cars will be unable to pass each other – expect traffic to back up EVERY time someone enters or exits a cab.

I’m guessing the first three slides of the “Sanlitun traffic options” Powerpoint presentation somehow got lost: 1) leave things as they are; 2) make the street pedestrian-only, or 3) take some of the Swire sidewalk and widen the road. Instead, it went directly to slide 4: Erect a metal barrier to make things worse for drivers and pedestrians. Hopefully, there is no slide 5: Add a speed bump every five meters.

Despite all this, getting a cab in Sanlitun should still be easier than at The Place. Over the past month, I have been a regular at Pacific Coffee there and it seems that getting a Z visa is easier than hailing a cab at The Place after 5 PM.

Consider a recent weekday, when I tried to catch a cab at 9:40 PM. I waited: 1) near the entrance, 2) 200 meters north, hoping a cab would round the corner from Ritan Park, 3) 200 meters north of the back end of The Place, hoping a cab would come out of Central Park, 4) the back end of The Place, and 5) 200 meters north of there (again). I finally caught at taxi at 10:35 PM, at which point we had to drive past the back end of The Place, along its southern flank, and past its entrance, thereby unfairly exciting dozens of people still hoping to catch a ride by midnight.

Isolated incident? Other recent adventures include: 1) waiting so long for a cab that I gave up, went back into The Place, ate, and returned an hour later in the hope that the queue had shortened; 2) giving up and walking south to Guanghua Road to grab a cab; and 3) walking home.

6 thoughts on “The waiting game: Sanlitun, The Place”

  1. maybe it’s time to consider changing stomping grounds… Pacific coffee at Jianwai SOHO could do the trick. It’s easy enough to get a taxi here (other than rush hour that is)

  2. They are making Nanluogu Xiang pedestrian only and no parking for the Olympics as they are worried about bomb threats. I expect they’ll do the same for Sanlitun bar strip, so things may improve…

  3. “They are making Nanluogu Xiang pedestrian only and no parking for the Olympics”

    Best thing to come out of the Olympics thus far, in my book.

  4. @ Badr,

    I can tell you one thing: it’s hard to beat the Starbuck’s patio in the China World Hotel building for sheer volume. Lots of horn-happy drivers on the nearby street and six or seven patrons around me who are screaming into their cell phones. One world, one scream…

    @ 12sqm,

    It seems odd that they would erect a four-foot-high barrier and THEN make the area pedestrian free. Then again, who knows.

    Cheers, Boyce

  5. Boyce,

    is it me or is there a dearth of patrons around Sanlitun these days? I was in said street last night about 8pm on the way to dinner, and about 10pm on the way back from dinner. On both occasions the barrier caused little problem, simply because there was no great crowd of taxis or of people. Even the touts out front of those bars opposite Swire seemed forlorn (or maybe that’s because of their job.)

  6. 8 Songs,

    No, it’s not you.

    I went to Sanlitun on Sunday afternoon and found it near empty. Eerie…

    Cheers, Jim.

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