Development of bicycles as transport in VN discussed

Monday, Nov 21, 2016 10:50

Ha Noi policemen patrolling by bicycle. it is the time to seek solutions by encouraging the public to move from motorcycles back to riding bicycles again. — File Photo

Viet Nam has witnessed a spectacular move from bicycles to motorcycles. Now it is the time to seek solutions by encouraging the public to move from motorcycles back to riding bicycles again, but it will not be an easy task, according to experts.

They made their comments during a seminar, entitled “The role of bicycle transportation in the city – International experiment exchange and how to apply it in Viet Nam”, which took place on November 17 in Ha Noi as part of the ongoing international exhibition, Vietnam Cycle 2016.

Viet Nam seeks vehicles that save energy, and the event showed the government’s interest in again using bicycles in the development of transportation, said Vice Chairman of Vietnam Cars, Motorbikes and Bicycles Association Nguyen Huu Son.

Son noted that Viet Nam was one of the countries using very large numbers of motorcycles, thus leading to traffic congestion and air pollution. These concerns are receiving great attention by agencies and the public. In recent years, the Government has launched numerous policies to restrict the use of personal vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles.

Also, the Government encourages people to use bicycles to reduce pollution from exhaust. In big cities such as Ha Noi and HCM City, bicycling is attracting people of all ages, pushing up sales of bicycles and electronic bicycles, he said, adding that the market is promising for both domestic and foreign companies.

The return of Peugeot, the French bicycle giant, to Viet Nam after 20 years was clear evidence of this trend.

At the seminar, Lionel Bayard, Export and Marketing Manager of France’s Peugeot Cycles, shared the experience of the French government in encouraging citizens to ride bicycles.

For instance, France reduced taxes for those who cycle to work, offered free bicycles or assistance on bicycle routes, and required new buildings to provide parking for bicycles, he said.

Lionel Bayard added that in 2015 France saw record sales of bicycles and accessories, valued at 1.7 billion euro. Also, the Government installed 55,000 bicycle stations in 42 cities.

Of note, a pilot project on public bicycles in Ha Noi, called BK-BIKE, was introduced at the event.

Phạm Tuan Hiep, Director of BK-BIKE project, said the project will pilot the creation of bicycle renting stations at Hanoi University of Science and Technology in 2016.

Further, it is expected to test replacing motorbikes in the next two years with 1,500 bicycles and 50 public transport stations. The project will be expanded to Ha Noi’s central districts, with 400 stations and 12,000 bicycles, in 2019 and 2020.

Hiep also proposed developing a public-private-partnership business model between State and private businesses.

Nguyen Huy Tien, Deputy Head of Environment Department under the Ministry of Transport, said development of bicycle renting stations was an interesting solution and should be carried out soon.

However, Tien suggested launching policies on upgrading infrastructure for bicycles and seeking investors.

Vu Ngoc Tien, an amateur cyclist, said a revival of bicycling is needed to reduce environmental pollution, traffic jams, and because of the public’s increasing health consciousness. However, programmes and campaigns on using bicycles among the public should be carried out, with government institutes as pioneers.

Nguyen Trai, also an amateur cyclist who spent 10 years cycling, said before beginning campaigns for using bicycles, the State needed to improve its infrastructure.

Particularly, the current import duty on ordinary bicycles is too high, at 45 per cent, while the import duty levied on sports bikes is only 5 per cent. Actually, demand for sport bikes remain less and tax rates should be changed to encourage more people to use bicycles in Viet Nam. — VNS

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