While motorcycling can be seen as a leisure hobby in the West to an extent, in the case developing nations like the ones in Asia, it is more of a matter of need. Affordability, easy to use and consume smaller space. All these factors help motorcyclists commute faster and more effectively. But an Asian city banning motorcyclists will be crazy right?
The Vietnamese city of Hanoi is actually considering that! Yes, imagine banning the least space consuming means of personal transport! No, the matter is a wee bit more complicated. The city of Hanoi currently has a little less than 5 million two-wheelers. In the next four years the number is expected to rise to 7 million!
Now while a few media houses have been reporting about this expected ban for sometime now, I tried to dig slightly deeper. Speaking to a friend of mine who has been working with an NGO in rural part of the country, I realised that two-wheelers are deeply rooted in the Vietnamese culture. Folks will be ready to swing their leg across their bikes and scooters even for going to a shop in the next street.
But banning the most efficient way of transportation? Is the government planning an alternate as well? Yes, they are working to make the public transport system better. The authorities are trying to bring in more buses on the roads. Folks would remember that earlier this year the Delhi government tried to ease traffic and pollution levels by bringing in the odd-even rule. Based on this, residents were allowed to take out their cars only on alternate days.
Imagine what will happen to folks in India if some city decides to ban motorcycles to ease congestion.