Hanoi’s leader softens motorbike ban after public calls it ‘protection’ for cars

By Vo Hai   July 24, 2017 | 04:07 pm GMT+7
Hanoi’s leader softens motorbike ban after public calls it ‘protection’ for cars
Cars and motorbikes in downtown Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

'The city will not ban but rather limit motorbikes in certain core areas of the downtown districts.'

Nguyen Duc Chung, the chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, has dialed down a municipal ban on motorbikes that was set to take effect in Vietnam's capital by 2030, ruling out a blanket ban on the most popular mode of transport . 

“The city will not ban but rather limit motorbikes in certain core areas of the downtown districts,” Chung said at a meeting with constituents on Monday.

He said the city would increase the number of public buses from 1,000 to 1,500, and expand its metro system in the coming years to encourage public transportation.

Chung made the statement after many members of the public questioned the feasibility and fairness of the motorbike ban, which the municipal legislature approved on July 4.

Officials initially hailed the proposed ban as a breakthrough that would block motorbikes from downtown districts and other areas with adequate public transportation starting in 2030. The plan, which was nominally aimed at alleviating congestion, would only limit cars to specified streets during certain hours and days while calling for higher downtown parking fees.

Those present at the meeting questioned the plan’s feasibility and cited a lack of development in the city’s public transport system as the cause of an outsize dependence on motorbikes.

“The motorbike ban only protects rich people who drive cars,” said Tran Ngoc Toan, a local constituent who argued that any restrictions on motorbike traffic should also apply to cars.

Some received the recent news with a sigh of relief, while others say they’ll wait and see what things look like in another 13 years.

Late last year, city police reported that Hanoi’s 7.6 million citizens own over five million motorbikes and 550,000 cars. Cars now occupy over 40 percent of the city’s roads according to the data.

Calls for a motorbike ban have arisen several times over the past few years. Each time, it received strong opposition from experts and residents who argued the city must build a functional public transport system before considering such a policy.

Hanoi officials last revived the idea in June, drawing significant criticism.

At a meeting last month, lawyers and transport experts questioned the legal rationale for the ban.

Vu Van Ven, the city’s transport department director, said “the Hanoi’s chairman possesses the authority to determine where and when people can travel in the city.”

Chung, the chairman, reportedly made no public statement during that session.

 
 
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