Citing pollution and road trauma statistics, the Hanoi People's Council has voted overwhelmingly in favor of banning motorcycles in the inner city by 2030. Instead, the city is aiming to develop public transport to better serve its 7.6 million residents.
Western visitors to Vietnam are hit by an onslaught of sensory input: the smells, the colors, the heat, the humidity. But nothing tells you you're not in Kansas anymore quite like the tidal onslaught of motorcycles from every direction.
Crossing the road is like walking over hot coals. If you don't have unwavering belief in yourself, you just can't do it. Even once you're a seasoned campaigner, it's like calmly walking into machine-gun fire and expecting it just not to hit you. Riding a motorcycle in the city yourself is eerily akin to being part of a swarm of bees. It's pure chaos, that somehow seems to work despite the fact that nobody's paying any attention to road signs, lanes, directions or traffic lights most of the time.
It's thoroughly invigorating for adrenaline junkies, terrifying for other visitors and the absolute daily norm for Vietnamese folk. But its days are numbered in Vietnam's capital Hanoi, according to several reports.
Together with coal-fired power plants and local heavy industry, Hanoi's 5 million motorcycles – the vast majority of which are 110-125cc scooters – contribute to some of the worst pollution in South-East Asia, with only a tenth of days last year meeting the World Health organization's criteria for "good" air quality. Furthermore, motorcycles are involved in some 70 percent of road accidents, a number which strikes us as astonishingly low given the sheer number of the things on the road.
So, the plan is to spend the next 12 years investing in vastly improving public transport around the city, and then slowly introduce no-go areas for motorcycles that will cover the entire inner city by 2030.
It's hard to imagine Hanoi without its sea of scooters, teetering along with everything from furniture, to livestock, to 7-strong families balancing on them. But (state-owned) Vietnam News is reporting that when 15,300 households across 30 districts of Hanoi were surveyed last month, a baffling 90.3 percent of respondents agreed with the plan.
Source: Vietnam News
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