Wonderful Engineering

Chinese Pearl River Necklace Bridge Provides A Twisted Solution To A Strange Traffic Problem

There are very few instances of the neighboring countries that drive on the opposite side of the road. A rare example is shared border between China and former British colony Hong Kong or China and former Portuguese colony Macau. Both Macau and Hong Kong have retained the left side drive rule, while the Chinese drive on the right side.

This conflict presents an unusual engineering dilemma to the road planners.


Image Source: NL Architects


A Dutch architectural firm, NL Architects, came up with the idea of a bridge with a twist. The concept of this bridge seeks to direct the driver on the right side of the road while visually reinforcing the same to ensure that the driver follows the correct side of the road.

Left vs. Right Drive

The origin of the left and the right drives cannot be determined with certainty. In England, the trails of an unspoiled track leading to a Roman quarry near Swindon indicate that the Romans drove on the left. The experts believe that they adopted the left-hand drive to lead their horse with the left hand, leaving the dominant right hand free to defend themselves with their sword.


Image Source: NL Architects


The US truckers driving the huge horse-driven freight wagons positioned themselves on the left rear horse and held the whip with their right. To ensure that they stayed out of the path of the oncoming vehicles, they preferred that the wagons travel across them on the left.  This prompted the left-to-right transition, and today more than two-thirds of the world drives on the right side.

The Current Solution

The Chinese territory is connected to the Hong Kong via Lok Ma Chau bridge. Similarly, the Lotus Bridge connects mainland China to Macau.


Image Source: Google Maps


As the drivers cross these bridges, they direct the drivers such that they end up driving on the correct side.


Image Source: Google Maps


However, these two bridges do not reinforce the message visually.

The Flipper

The Pearl River Necklace Bridge has been named “The Flipper” by the architects of the concept bridge.


Image Source: NL Architects


According to the layout of The Flipper, different sides of the road separate coil around each other such that they end up on the opposite side.


Image Source: NL Architects


The bridge design is yet far from reality, yet it is quite an interesting concept to indulge in.