Vietnamese are stuck with their motorbikes

By Thanh Son   November 3, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnamese are stuck with their motorbikes
Motorcyclists encroach a sidewalk in Hanoi to escape congestion on the street, April 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
I used to drive my motorbike 30 km from home to work, and I always came early. But recently when my back pain forced me to stay at a friend's place, just 7 km from the office, to shorten my travel, I've started to be late.

When I was far away from the office, I made a habit of going to bed early so I could wake up at 5:30 a.m. and leave home at 6:15 a.m. Now I stay closer to the office, I've allowed myself to stay up late and wake up a bit later, and hit the road when everyone else does, and as a result get stuck in traffic.

In Saigon, you only need to hit the road five or 10 minutes early to escape the morning peak hours. Otherwise, you will spend 25 minutes for a five-kilometer journey. My friends in Hanoi said that distance would take them more than an hour during peak hours.

Now I understand why I used to go to work much earlier than my colleagues who were nearer to the company.

We are spending too much time and labor with motorbikes, and money.

A study by research market company AMR Group in 2020 showed that an average working person who traveled by motorbike in Vietnam drove 649 km a month, nearly the distance from Hanoi to Hue, or nearly 7,800 km a year, longer than from Hanoi to Sydney.

They spent nearly VND8.5 million (US$346) a year on gasoline and maintenance for a motorbike.

There are several attitudes towards motorbikes: respectful because it is the mean for making a living of many people; annoyed because of the common problems with individual vehicles; and stuck because we have to agree that it's convenient amid the lack of public transport, and we also have to agree that the rides are often tiring and time-consuming.

Public transport is the only solution to free us. I really long for the day I can sit on a metro train, listening to some music or reading a book on the way to work and back home.

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