Sunday, July 12, 2015

Guest Post: Is it Safe to Travel on Two Wheels in Vietnam?

Look down the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and you’ll notice a strange phenomenon that you won’t find anywhere else outside of Vietnam: rather than cars filling the roads, they’re flooded with motorbikes. And if you thought that this was limited to Ho Chi Minh, think again. The “four wheels bad, two wheels good” mantra can be observed throughout the country, even in the smaller towns. So with the number of residents using bikes, would it be safe to say that many visitors to the country would be safe cycling across Vietnam during their vacations?

If we compare Saigon to the world’s most cycle-friendly destinations, there are several major differences that are immediately visible to the naked eye. New to the Copenhagenize Index of Bike Friendly Cities is Minneapolis, an impressive feat as the list is consistently dominated by European cities. The city is very vocal about their new on-street bikeways that extend 189 km in length across the city. However, one area they need improvement on is the city’s maintenance infrastructure that helps support the metropolis during inclement weather. Although it has been years since London made the top 20, the British capital is widely known for adapting workspaces to accommodate cyclists, where large business hubs have improved the workforce’s transition to the commuting via cycling. London Gatwick leads by example by providing ample parking and constructing a national cycle path through the airport for easy access.

Despite the number of motorists and cyclists in the urban areas in contrast to four-wheeled drivers, Vietnam is far from meeting the international standards of the aforementioned bike-friendly cities just yet. Motorcycles and scooters account for 95 percent of registered vehicles in the country, which also happens to be the leading cause of traffic accidents among 15 to 29 year-olds according to the World Health Organization. It takes a lot of competency to maneuver through the streets of Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh reporter Nghiem Cuong claims that if you can ride a bike or drive a car in the country, you basically can drive anywhere in the world.

If you are still planning a cycling holiday in Vietnam, you’re better off staying away from cities such as Hanoi and Saigon to get the most from your vacation. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t alternative transportation to get around the beautiful cities of Hanoi and Saigon.

by Amy Johnson

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