Walk this way: Hanoi to extend pedestrian zone trial through first half of next year

By VnExpress   December 13, 2016 | 11:59 pm PT
Walk this way: Hanoi to extend pedestrian zone trial through first half of next year
Locals and tourists flock to the pedestrian zone around Hoan Kiem Lake when it was opened as a walking area in September. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
The idea of banning vehicles in the city center appears to have been a hit.

A pedestrian zone in the heart of Hanoi has been on trial for the past four months and the city is keen to expand it.

The pedestrian zone is the brainchild of Nguyen Duc Chung, the chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee. He believes that the pedestrian zone will enliven the city and attract more tourists to Hanoi.

“The pedestrian zone has attracted a lot of people," said the city’s mayor, partly in response to critics who say it shouldn’t just simply be about blocking vehicles from the streets. "However, the streets are still void of interesting and diverse cultural events and entertainment.” 

“The trial pedestrian zone has proven a success over the last four months, and the city has decided to extend it from January 1 to June 30, 2017,” Chung added.

The city’s decision to extend the vehicle-free zone trial through the first half of next year aims to test how its popularity is affected by the weather, said the mayor, explaining that hot weather could drive people away.

When the city announced the plan to turn a big chunk of the downtown into a pedestrian zone in late August, many people were thrilled at the idea. They said that closing the city center to motor vehicles from Friday evening through the weekend could make Hanoi a greener, cleaner and more likable place.

However, others, mostly local businesses and residents living inside the zone, have weighed in with criticism, saying the plan threatens their livelihoods.

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