Driving in this city is a totally different experience to that of driving in Australian cities. At first, the traffic seems to be utterly chaotic with people going in all directions. Cars, trucks and buses travel alongside thousands of motorbikes, bicycles, cyclos, push-pull vehicles for disabled persons and a strange eclectic mix of other assorted conveyances. The rapidity with which people change direction and the closeness of each vehicle to the other usually causes the newcomer to fear for their safety, and rightly so. However, it doesn’t take too long before it becomes apparent that all of this actually works. The constant tooting of horns has a meaning and the fact that nobody checks the on coming traffic when entering form a side street is OK, because that is what others expect to happen.
The death of this city will be brought about by four the wheeled vehicles. As people become more affluent their is a push to buy more cars. More cars take up more room on the already overcrowded streets and cars are not able to be as fluid in their motion as are motorbikes. You can liken the mass movement of bikes in this city to flocks of birds or schools of fish fluidly moving and changing shape to adapt to the prevailing conditions. Cars, trucks and buses simply get in the way.
But there is another problem with the change to enclosed metal vehicles, they isolate people one from the other. Right now when you travel by bike along with the throngs of other travelers there is a sort of kinship that develops. Everyone is in the same boat, so to speak, and there seems to be a closeness as a result. There is very little argument or road rage, although occasionally there may be a harsh word or two if somebody’s foot gets run over in the crush.
According to the Viet Nam News, the government concedes that road travel needs to be made safer. However, I think that it is a pity that it will come at the expense of motorbike travel…
In my humble opinion it would be far better to restrict the number of cars and to ban them from certain narrow streets where havoc is created when two vehicles meet and motorbike riders have to try and get around them. I will hate to witness this place become like Bangkok with massive traffic jams clogging the cities roads. Unfortunately, that seems bound to happen and along with it, the isolation of the people into their own metallic spheres of indifference.