Pedestrians risk lives crossing Ho Chi Minh City streets

By Dinh Muoi – An Huy, Thanh Nien News

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Students illegally crossing the National Highway 1A section in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: An Huy Students illegally crossing the National Highway 1A section in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: An Huy


A man was fatally hit by a bus when crossing Cong Hoa Street in Ho Chi Minh City early Tuesday.
Witnesses said the man aged around 50 was crossing the street illegally 200 meters from a crossroads with traffic lights.
Many people in HCMC break road dividers and cross illegally due to a lack of pedestrian crossings or simply because they are too lazy to walk up to a zebra crossing or footbridge.
Sixty five people have been killed crossing the streets so far this year, according to the city transport department.
Illegal crossings are common on National Highway 1A section from the An Suong Overpass to the Hanoi Highway and the National Highway 22, a Thanh Nien investigation found.
A two-meter iron fence installed on the center divider with thick greenery has failed to stop illegal crossings at either place.
People have simply broken the plants and fence to create dangerous shortcuts.
Near the Thu Duc Wholesale Market, iron nets put up over broken fence sections have also been cut since people do not want to walk 700m to the Binh Phuoc Overpass.
Nguyen Van Luu, a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver at the market, said there should be a footbridge near the market because the demand is huge.
The situation is no better on many streets in the downtown area, including Dien Bien Phu, the major thoroughfare from the city center to eastern region.
Many people ignore footbridges, including eight of them on Vo Van Kiet Street and another near the Tumor Hospital on No Trang Long Street.
“[I am] taking the risk because it is tiring to use the high footbridge,” Thanh, a patient at the hospital, said.
The situation is the same on Cong Quynh Street where a footbridge links two sections of the Tu Du Hospital.
Forgotten dangers
In 2003 a city court handed down a suspended sentence of nine months to a pedestrian for illegally crossing and causing a fatal crash by a motorbike driver.
Experts said the case was rare and has not deterred similar violations.
Pham Sanh, a lecturer at the HCMC University of Transport, said pedestrian safety is rarely incorporated in the construction of roads.
A footbridge across Vo Van Kiet Street in Ho Chi Minh City that is rarely used by pedestrians. Photo: Diep Duc Minh.
“People often think about cars and motorbikes when talking about transport and forget pedestrians.
“Meanwhile, many people are not familiar with using footbridges.”
HCMC-based architect Ngo Viet Nam Son said footbridges should be built near roadside shopping malls and towers.
“The Thao Dien metro station will need a footbridge across the Hanoi Highway because people cannot take a 2-3 km detour. More people will use the bridge if it is going to be built near malls there.”
Son also called for more overbridges and tunnels for pedestrians, motorbikes and bicycles.
“People will surely use them once they are built on the Hanoi, Pham Van Dong and Vo Van Kiet highways.”


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