More streets in Hanoi to go pedestrian on weekends

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Tourists walk in downtown Hanoi / PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS

Hanoi will designate six more streets in its famous Old Quarter for pedestrian traffic only this month, online newspaper VnExpress reported Wednesday.

Under a plan recently approved by Hanoi People's Committee, Hang Buom, Ma May, Dao Duy Tu, Hang Giay, Luong Ngoc Quyen, and Ta Hien streets in Hoan Kiem District will be open to pedestrians only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pedestrian-only hours start at 7 p.m. and end at 12 p.m. in the summer, and 6 p.m. 12 p.m. in the winter.

The streets are flanked by buildings from the 18th-19th centuries and many historic sites.

They are home to some 10,000 people who mostly earn their livings off tourism in the area, according to local authorities. Some 240 of the local families operate shops and restaurants.

District authorities said they are now working on security, traffic safety, environmental hygiene, and food safety on the streets.

According to the Hanoi People's Committee, the streets are well-paved with good drainage systems, while many historic homes are in good shape.

But the streets are quite narrow (5-6.5 meters wide) with unreliable electricity, bad public restrooms, and messy signboards.

In July 2012, Hanoi opened its three first pedestrian zones at Chua Mot Cot Street -- home to the famous One Pillar Pagoda -- Ong Ich Khiem Street and part of Hung Vuong Street.

The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism last month reported that 2.58 million foreign tourists visited the city last year, up 12.2 percent from the previous year.

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