It’s official: Hanoi steamrolls motorbike ban bill through

By Vo Hai   July 3, 2017 | 08:48 pm PT
It’s official: Hanoi steamrolls motorbike ban bill through
Motorbikes are being blamed as the main reason for gridlocks in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Hung
Cars will also be restricted, but not subject to a blanket ban.

Hanoi legislators on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a proposal to ban motorbikes from the city center from 2030 to reduce traffic congestion, despite strong opposition from transport experts and the public.

The resolution was passed by the city’s legislative People’s Council with 91 percent of the votes.

Under the decision, hailed as a "breakthrough" by the council’s vice chairman Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, motorbikes will be banned from downtown districts and limited in areas with adequate public transport.

Hanoi will also impose restrictions on cars, but not a blanket ban. Cars, which now occupy over 40 percent of the city's roads according to police data, will only have to stay away from specified streets during certain hours and days, and will be charged higher parking fees in downtown areas.

The motorbike ban has been raised and rehashed several times over the past few years, and has always received strong opposition from many experts and residents as it targets the country’s most popular means of transport.

Figures from Hanoi police released late last year showed the city of 7.6 million people had more than five million motorbikes and 550,000 cars. The country had around 45 million registered motorbikes last year, according to official data.

Buses are 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, but that could take years to complete.

The final decision came several days after the Transport Development and Strategy Institute at the transport ministry had to defend a survey of 15,000 people it claimed to have conducted in the city.

The institute said that more than 90 percent of those asked endorsed the ban. But many members of the public have questioned its authenticity in media reports. An online poll by VnExpress last Friday showed more than 70 percent of 6,500 respondents said "No" to the ban.

Legal and transport experts in recent weeks have also bristled at the ban, calling it “hasty” and even “impossible” given the current public transport network.

Some said the ban has no legal grounds and will put Vietnam at odds with the rest of the world where people are free to drive motorbikes in most countries.

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