In-depth
Urbanites have mixed reactions to public bicycle project
  • By Hoai Nam | dtinews.vn | February 13, 2014 08:56 AM
 >>  PM asks cities to try out public bikes
Although many people in HCM City appreciate the Prime Minister's pilot project including public bicycle, they still think bicycles are not a viable means for traveling in the city.

 

Bicycles seems out of place on busy streets

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the five cities of Hanoi, HCM City, Haiphong, Danang and Can Tho to pilot a public bicycle project in the city centres. This would be one among a number of measures to restrict private vehicles in order to ease traffic in the cities.

Nguyen Huu Anh, a former student of the University of Foreign Trade, thinks that the project might help to reduce pollution and congestion in the city and moreover, is a way to get exercise, creating a more elegant image of HCMC. "Our cities are full of noise and dust. I'm excited about this project," Anh said.

Ngoc Lan, an employee at a hotel, said this project could be useful and convenient for people like her who often travel by bus. She said, "I won't have to borrow other peoples' motorbikes or call a motorbike taxi again. If this project is implemented, I'll be the first to use it. But I'm also a bit worried about the rental prices and whether there would be any rental place near my house. It would be useless if I had to walk a long way to pick up the bike."

 

No vehicle to compete with motorbike 

Meanwhile, there are many people who disagree with the project for other reasons. Some say the scheme is impractical because motorbikes are still the main means of transport in Vietnam. If people only had to travel a short distances for daily activities, then they would buy their own bikes.

A resident said, "The city will be less polluted and noisy, but this project should definitely be implemented as a pilot before rolling it out completely. Most people already own a motorbike, they won't rent another bicycle."

In addition, the most concerning problem is the traffic situation and infrastructure of HCM City. Cyclists are more vulnerable to accidents since they do not have specified lanes.

Nguyen Thuy Anh, a resident on Nguyen Quang Dieu Street, said she bought a bicycle last year and fully enjoyed all of its benefits, including fuel savings. However, she stopped using it after facing a number of near accidents.

She said, "Navigating an intersection or roundabout is the scariest thing. Not to mention that bicycles are slower to get going than other vehicles when the a traffic light turns green, causing temporary jams."

Experts and the public seem to agree that the bicycle project should be piloted first in select areas of the city. Moreover, even though the congestion is often caused by motorbikes, with the current infrastructure it's difficult to find another vehicles that can compete with them.

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