Battling William Nicol traffic? Try surviving the worst traffic jams in history

23 October 2018 - 11:02 By Nokuzola Zingithwa
Would-be Woodstock music festivalgoers trapped in an epic jam on the road to Bethel, New York on August 15 1969.
Would-be Woodstock music festivalgoers trapped in an epic jam on the road to Bethel, New York on August 15 1969.
Image: Paul DeMaria/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

William Nicol has been trending on Twitter yet again this morning and of course, as usual, it's because of heavy traffic. This time it was caused by an accident, a stationary vehicle and a set of robots being out. 

Next time you're trapped in Joburg traffic and find your road rage simmering, take a deep breath and just be grateful that you were not stuck in some of the worst traffic jams in history.

Here are three of them:

THE MUSICAL JAM (NEW YORK, 1969)

When the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival was hosted from August 15 to 18, a three-day traffic snarl-up ensued. Apparently, the organisers underestimated the number of people who would attend, resulting in a 32km traffic jam on the New York Thruway. Artists even had to be flown in by helicopter to avoid the traffic. As for music lovers, they abandoned their jammed cars and danced to the venue of one of the most famous jams in history.

THE ‘FOR DAYS’ JAM (BEIJING, 2010)

The king of all traffic jams! Imagine being trapped in in one for 12 days? How is that even possible, you ask. Congestion was already a problem on the Beijing-Tibet expressways and work was under way to expand it. However, the trucks delivering construction materials, added to other vehicles, ended up causing gridlock. The standstill was 100km long and lasted for almost two weeks.

THE HISTORICAL JAM (EAST/WEST BERLIN GERMANY, 1990)

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, an 18 million car traffic jam occurred at the Brandenburg Gate on April 12, as Germans suddenly had freedom of movement within the city and the country as a whole. What added to the gridlock was that it was not only a time people could reconnect with their family and friends after being divided for decades but it was the Easter holidays, when people take a break from work and school. Surely that’s one traffic jam we could all put up with?

Can you still really complain about South African traffic jams?

This article is adapted from one originally published on SowetanLIVE. Visit the SMag section for more great lifestyle reads.

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