Hanoi plans to push bicycles to reduce traffic, pollution

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Hanoi is planning to promote the use of bicycles to lessen traffic jams and pollution, but experts say this will be unfeasible until the city develops a modern public transport system.

The Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade recently made a proposal to the People's Committee that would increase bicycle production and encourage people to switch to that mode of transport.

In addition to improving air quality and easing traffic congestion, the use of bicycles will be beneficial to people's health, according to the department.

However, speaking to Infonet, the online newspaper of the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, a transportation expert, said implementing the project would be "impossible."

Vietnamese would not want to switch to bicycles because it would require lots of time and energy and they are so used to motorbikes, he said.

In countries like Japan, people mainly commute by train, only riding bicycles to and from train stations, he said.

A well-developed public transport system enables bicycles to play a role in people's lives, he said.

So, to promote the use of bicycles, Hanoi must first develop a "complete" transport network allowing people to combine bicycles with public transportation, he said.

"Bicycling is very good. But I bet that you won't be able to convince people to stop using motorbikes and switch to bicycles at the moment."

Dinh Thi Thanh Binh, head of the Institute of Transport Planning and Management, agreed, saying bicycles only become relevant when combined with a good public transport system.

"It will be too early to encourage people to use bicycles when public transportation has yet to be developed," she said.

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