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Cycling the answer to almost everything

Update: April, 26/2013 - 09:00

Dear Your Say contributors,

The Your Say column will not be published next week as we celebrate Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1).

The next topic will be announced when we resume printing on May 2.

Thank you for your contributions so far and we look forward to receiving more from you.

Have a nice vacation!

The Editor

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers about whether Ha Noi People's Committee approves a proposal from the city's Industry and Trade Department to encourage local people to ride bicycles as one of efforts to save fuel, reduce pollution and traffic jams and give a much-needed boost to the domestic bicycle manufacturing industry. Here are some responses:

Guim Valls Teruel, Spanish, Ha Noi

Nowadays, people in more and more cities around the world are moving by bicycle. Why should Ha Noi be any different?

Viet Nam has something that not many other countries have; almost 100 per cent of its population knows how to ride a bicycle. Ha Noi traffic was far better many years ago when everybody moved by bicycle. In recent years, motorbikes have been polluting the air and creating terrible traffic jams.

In Europe, Australia, America and many other regions, people have learned already that cars and motorbikes are useful sometimes, but not all the time. They are very convenient for long trips, but you do not need to drive a motorbike from Tay Ho District to Hoan Kiem District.

People in more developed countries have stopped considering a car as a status symbol and are increasingly commuting on the most effective, efficient and environmentally respectful means of transport, the bicycle.

Amazingly, traffic in Ha Noi does work somehow. There is order in the chaos. You just need to go with the flow! There is no need for bicycle lanes in Ha Noi because we must accept that no one here follows international traffic rules. No one will respect a bicycle lane when nobody even respects normal traffic lanes.

However, that does not mean bicycles should not be encouraged in other ways. They will always be better than motorbikes or cars because they are thinner, they are more efficient, they make no noise, and if you get stuck in a traffic jam you can always lift it up and get out by yourself.

Regarding complaint about bicycles being too slow, have people seen the speed of traffic in the city? Most Hanoians can only drive their motorbikes or cars at 20km per hour. I really do not see where the problem is. You go faster by bicycle in Ha Noi than by any motorbike.

I crossed the world on a pedal assist electric bicycle with Nguyen Thuy Anh, my wife. Electric bicycles in general can go even faster than a motorbike in busy traffic – on average they will go at 25 to 30 km per hour.

Viet Nam has the potential to become the Netherlands of Asia, a leading bicycle community. In my humble opinion, the Vietnamese people should take one step forward and lead a change in Asia similar to the one that is already happening in many countries around the world. Commuting by bicycle is the cleverest way of moving around in cities.

I am glad to read that Ha Noi's People Committee is considering incentives persuading people to swap their motorbikes for bicycles.

Cycling in Ha Noi, despite of traffic, is very safe as vehicles go slowly and everybody is aware of where you are; and Ha Noi is in my opinion the most beautiful city in south east Asia. Together we should say "yes" to making it more bicycle-friendly.

Niraj Varma, Indian, Ha Noi

I like cycling and I welcome this proposal from Ha Noi's Industry and Trade Department. Though the traffic is very heavy and chaotic in Ha Noi sometimes, it can also be lots of fun and very interesting if you are good at cycling and willing to learn the unique rules of the road.

By riding bicycles, we reduce air and noise pollution. Increased emissions of harmful gases including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others are believed to be causing warming through the greenhouse effect, depleting the ozone layer and causing a reduction in general air quality. Use of bicycles will help control these harmful emissions.

Many health benefits are associated with cycling such as an increase in calorie burning, strength, muscle tone and cardio-vascular fitness as well as reduced stress. Cycling can be done by people of all ages.

By cycling instead of using motor vehicles whenever possible, you will be simultaneously saving money, getting fit and helping to reduce global warming. In addition, you will set a positive example to others.

Too many bicycles on the road may worsen traffic congestion, the same as with too many of any other mode of transport.

We need to find solutions to this problem. To me the answer lies in increasing the width of the roads, building cross-over bridges and bicycle-lanes, adjusting school, college and office hours to avoid the rush of traffic at a particular time. The city should also have professional traffic officers who know their job well and can spread information related to the dos and don'ts for cyclists.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

Bicycling is the best form of transportation and is the solution to our problems. I rode in HCM City for three years, faster than motorcycles. It was dangerous, hot and sweaty work, but excellent exercise. It kept me sane, alert and strong.

After one year in Ha Noi, I became complacent and lazy. I rented a motorbike. In two years, I have gained 11 kilograms. Same schedule, same diet.

If police encouraged bicycles, Ha Noi would be better off for it. Dedicate a lane; sell an authentic helmet and go!

If immature and indifferent high school students can ride slowly, three across and into red light intersections, so can the rest of us. If the scrap and recycle material collectors can do it, so can the rest of us. If poor, slow, or feeble grandma and grandpa can do it, so can the rest of us.

Corporations are addicted to gasoline. Bicycles are not just for children and grandpa. I dare you start pedalling. I am buying a new bicycle this holiday weekend to celebrate Viet Nam's Independence Day. Free yourself of gasoline and pollution. Next to love, bicycling is the best addiction around.

Oanh Nguyen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

I agree that riding bicycles will save fuel, and especially reduce exhaust fumes in comparison with cars and motorbikes. Local people should ride bicycles to travel as much as possible if they are sure that they will not be late or have trouble reaching their offices.

However, I also agree that the absence of specific bicycle lanes in the city mean there is an overpopulation of motorbikes and considerable insecurity for cyclists.

I support travelling by bicycles over short distances.

To turn Ha Noi into a greener city, the government should reduce or even ban personal vehicles. Public transport should be improved to meet the demand of travellers. I feel that buses in Ha Noi are overcrowded and the service is not good enough. That is why many people do not choose buses to travel in the city. — VNS



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