Daredevil pedestrians ignore footbridges in Saigon

By Quynh Tran   October 8, 2017 | 10:51 am GMT+7

Many people are willing to risk their lives on the manic streets to avoid taking the stairs.

Crossing the streets in Saigon is intimidating.

Thousands of motorbikes speed by just a hair's breadth away, stopping at traffic lights appears to be optional and zebra crossings are completely ignored.

Last month Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted the municipal Traffic Safety Committee as saying that 26 people were killed trying to cross the road in the southern metropolis in the first nine months of the year.

But in many cases, the vehicles were not at fault.

While authorities have been trying to ease the problem by building expensive footbridges across the city’s busy roads, many of them have been largely ignored by risk-taking pedestrians.

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No Trang Long footbridge in Binh Thanh District is the most notorious in town.

Built in front of the crowded Tumor Hospital to help patients and doctors avoid the fast-flowing traffic, it has been underused for years.

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“People cut across the street to save time, it’s a narrow road anyway”, said a vendor. “We hear the sound of screeching brakes every day and collisions happen all the time, but I think everyone has got used to the jaywalking.”

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Some patients said the footbridge is not wheelchair-friendly and too high for elderly people.

“I know it’s dangerous, but it’s really exhausting walking up there multiple times a day,” said Nguyen Thi Nga, after weaving her way through moving traffic. “For people in wheelchairs, risking their life to cross the street is the only option here.”

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A bridge on Pham Van Dong Boulevard has become a shelter for homeless people.

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Left almost disused, the overpass is filled with trash and sometimes becomes an open-air toilet.

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“The bridge is dirty and smelly, and has become a hang-out for drug users and thieves,” said Ngoc Hau, a guard. “They scare people away.”

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The bridge in front of Suoi Tien Theme Park is used more often. Vendors use the space to display their goods.

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A drinks stall has been set up in the shade of the overpass.

The city's transport department plans to build eighteen more footbridges across the city for an estimated VND25 billion ($1.1 million).

Several existing bridges have already been improved with flower beds and ramps for cyclists.

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Vo Van Kiet Boulevard, famous for being the most modern road in the city, has nine overpasses covered in flowers and plants.

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People come to take a break and enjoy the view from the bridge.

 
 
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