HA NOI (VNS)— Experts have stressed that well-prepared steps are necessary before Ha Noi can implement its pilot public bicycle rental services in downtown areas.
The comment was made following the Prime Minister's request to pilot a public bicycle project in Ha Noi, HCM City, Hai Phong, Da Nang, and Can Tho, commencing in the second quarter of this year.
According to an order issued by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, this is one of the measures being implemented in a bid to increase traffic safety and reduce congestion in the cities by 2015.
"If we intend to use more bikes then it means that we are adding to the traffic density. Our road infrastructures are not yet complete and we still do not have a separate lane for bicycles," emphasised Doan Minh Tam, the former director of the Transport Science and Technology Institute under the Ministry of Transport.
Thus, he believes that it will be quite risky if bicyclists use the same lanes as cars and motorbikes.
"I don't think a public bicycle system can help to ease traffic congestion. On the contrary, it will pose a potential for more traffic accidents," Tam pointed out.
Sharing the same viewpoint, Chairman of the Ha Noi Transport Association Bui Danh Lien stated that the city's current infrastructure is unsuitable for this type of transportation.
Many countries, such as Finland, Germany, and China, have used public bikes, but they all have separate bike lanes.
"I can't find any street in Ha Noi, which can be used for the pilot service," Lien added.
He further elaborated that the solution of banning people from certain routes in order to carry out the pilot plan of bike use is impractical, as they have to travel on these roads to work via different means of transport.
Lien noted that the pilot plan should only serve tourists, but the local people will find it difficult to accept as it is infeasible. He further added that many people can go to work by bus and would rather not spend their money on buying bikes.
"Cycling in Ha Noi is a difficult thing to do. There have been many occasions when I was pushed rather close to the pavement and had to stop or else I would have hit the pavement," remarked Nguyen Viet Bao, the president of the Now and Then Bicycle Club in Ha Noi.
"But the most threatening part is when we have to cross the roads," he added.
It is a bit too early to develop a public bike system in the city, stated Bich An, a resident of Ha Noi.
"It is currently quite challenging to go to work on a bicycle, so I don't think of it at all. Hopefully, once the Ha Dong-Cat Linh sky-train project is completed, I can use my bicycle as a means of transport from the train station to my office," she noted. —VNS