Hanoi revives plan to ban motorbikes in uphill battle against congestion

By Vo Hai   June 3, 2017 | 10:57 am GMT+7
Hanoi revives plan to ban motorbikes in uphill battle against congestion
Cars, buses and motorbikes almost stand still in a file photo taken in Hanoi in January 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Officials continue to blame five million motorbikes in the capital. 

Hanoi’s lawmakers are expected to make a decision this July about reducing traffic congestion in the city with a motorbike ban in 2030.

The plan, which is now open to public discussion, is to remove all motorbikes from downtown districts from 2030 and restrict the use of the vehicle in areas well served by public transport.

Cars, which now occupy over 40 percent of the road area in the capital, according to local police, would also be restricted but not as much. They will have to stay away from certain streets for certain hours and days, according to the plan which is expected to be reviewed and passed at a meeting of Hanoi’s lawmakers in early July.

The city also plans to limit vehicles in the downtown areas by charging entrance fees and increasing parking fees.

The motorbike ban idea has been brought up and rehashed several times over the past few years. It has received strong opposition from many experts and residents who argue that the city should build a complete public transport system first. They also said cars are actually to blame for traffic jams, not motorbikes.

Motorbikes are by far the most popular means of transport in Vietnam, even though car use has been booming in large cities in recent years.

The large number of individual vehicles has overwhelmed infrastructure development and has been blamed for increasing air pollution as well.

Officials in Ho Chi Minh City also plan to officially discuss a similar vehicle restriction plan this October.

The southern megacity now has eight million vehicles with 170 new cars and more than 800 motorbikes hitting the road every day, according to police data.

In comparison, figures from Hanoi police late last year showed the city of 7.6 million people has more than five million motorbikes and 550,000 cars. Data showed 4.6 percent of annual increase in individual vehicles while traffic land in the city has only expanded 0.4 percent a year.

Buses are the currently the only means of public transport in the city and they are becoming less popular. The city has been pouring money into other projects, including a metro system with elevated and underground lines. It could take years if not decades for the lines to be completed.