Hanoi can ban motorbikes if people sacrifice a little convenience

By Quang Luan   June 19, 2023 | 03:31 pm PT
Hanoi can ban motorbikes if people sacrifice a little convenience
Motorbike drivers in Hanoi, April 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
If people accept they have to sacrifice a bit of their convenience, Hanoi can take several steps forward in its motorbike restriction plans.

I have a friend whose house and company are located on the route of the Cat Linh - Ha Dong metro line, the country's first which started running in November 2021. But she has only taken the metro a few times, and rides her motorbike most of the time, because, she said, "I can decide when and where to go."

In the morning, she can sleep in, wake up late, and leisurely apply makeup, before hitting the road.

Then in the afternoon after work, she can go shopping, drop by restaurants or a friend’s house on the way home, as "it's convenient."

I live in Saigon and visit Hanoi several times a year. Saigon is also troubled with traffic jams, but the congestion in Hanoi is much worse and it really terrifies me.

I have heard many Hanoians complain about having to deal with severe traffic jams daily: the nightmare of traveling 4 km to work takes 45 minutes, and for 10 km it takes one and a half hours.

Hanoi had nearly 6.5 million motorbikes as of September 2022, not to include those brought by people traveling from outside the city, according to the city’s Transport Department.

If only 20% of these 6.5 million motorbike drivers spend an hour a day on the way to work and home, with the average salary per hour being VND30,000, Hanoi is wasting VND39 billion (US$1.66 million) a day.

Hanoi recently brought back its plan to ban motorbikes. Accordingly, the Hanoi People's Committee has assigned relevant units to prioritize the implementation of the project to ban motorbikes in inner districts by 2030.

I feel impatient with Hanoi’s motorbike ban project because it has taken more than 10 years to go nowhere. This project has been discussed over and over. It's mid-June 2023 already, can Hanoi ban motorbikes within six and a half years?

Yes. In my opinion, with enough determination and strong implementation, the city can ban motorbikes in the city center.

With decades of development, it can be said that motorbikes are part of people's life, and it is difficult to give it up immediately. But if you dare to change, it will surely be "one step back to take three steps forward."

If people take one step back at their inconvenience, the whole city can move forward three steps: reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and increasing public space.

To be successful in banning motorcycles, careful preparation and implementation of alternatives is required. This part, I will leave to the planners. But it is people's awareness that is the key to ensuring this project is a success.

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