Hanoï – Vietnam – According to the “latest” news hitting the internet news stands, Hanoi’s city council approved a decision to “banish” Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs – Mopeds – Scooters – Motorcycles) from the downtown city streets of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi by 2030.
Officials are quoted as saying that in a city of over five million motorbikes, with a population of over seven million people, a population density of 2300 persons per square kilometre and that is expected to rise to nine 9 million by the year 2030, the “ban” is required to free the heavily congested roads and to reduce the soaring levels of pollution.
In an article on the Hanoi.gov website, the leading title states “Control of motorcycle emissions to contribute to minimizing environmental pollution”. Also this proposed plan has been put out to consultation! Who would be against minimizing environmental pollution?
Statistics by the Hanoi Traffic Police Department in the same article states that in December 2016, there were a total of 49,079,865 registered motorcycles throughout the country, accounting for 95% of the total traffic.
In Hanoi alone, there were 5,255,245 motorbikes, 10,686 electric motorcycles, and 4,367 homemade motorcycles, in which, nearly a half of the number of motorbikes have been used for a long time – so are older motorcycles.
Older motorcycles which are not emission friendly, seem to be a problem –- the article in fact mentions that Hanoi is trying to cope with the environment pollution and traffic accidents caused by old motorbikes, which may be partly due to technical issues of mechanical failure.
Thus the Hanoi council says that, “It is necessary for the capital city to boost inspection and control of motorcycle emissions, contributing to reducing air pollution, protecting public health in urban areas and attracting investment in trade and tourism.”
A report to the government has looked at solutions for emissions and congestion by suggesting charging environmental fees for motorcycles, the control for motorcycle emissions in accordance with emission standards.
The city reasons that although motorcycles meet 90% of travel demands of the “people”, “The major reason of air pollution in urban areas is the emissions discharged from motorcycles which use fossil fuels.” stating further that according to calculations, “Discharge about 94% HC, 87% CO, 57% NOx and 33% PM10 out of the total emissions of vehicles.”
In an almost unanimous vote, 95 out of 96 city councillors, voted to control motorcycles and outlined a three phase roadmap:
- Phase 1, from 2017 to June 30, 2018, the city will complete the system of legal documents and technical standards for motorbikes.
- Phase 2, from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019, the city will monitor emissions of motorbikes with the cylinder capacity of at least 175cm3 – emissions checks will allow agencies to collect and remove old vehicles which do not meet technical and emission criteria.
- Phase 3, after 2020, the city will check, evaluate and give a report to the Government on implementation results and measures in the next period; develop systems, networks of emission testing facilities according to the proposed plan; retrieve and remove all old vehicles which do not meet technical and emission criteria.
In short, emission standards by restricting older motorbikes but also gradually restricting or banning motorcycles from entering downtown Hanoi (i.e. the inner city), by 2030.
The overall 13-year traffic vision road map for the city: “Strengthening the management of traffic means and environmental pollution in Ha Noi for the 2017 – 2020 period with a vision to 2030”, calls for controlling the quantity and quality of vehicles, including cars, allowed access to the inner city, by limiting the scope of their operation through road space rationing – barred from designated streets during certain hours and days and to pay higher parking fees in city downtown areas.
Part of this road traffic map includes the “vision” of requiring more people to move to public transport, in a city where buses appear to be the only means of public transport, trials began recently on the introduction of double decker buses for more capacity. The suggested improvements and requirements of investing in the public transport infrastructure before any ban is put in place includes:
- improvement of bus services
- bus rapid transit routes
- building alternative means of public transport
- urban light rail
- metro system – with elevated and underground lines
- elevated Railway (Sky Train) which has delayed
- access to some form of public transport every half kilometre
- encouragement to use bicycles, low-cost taxis or walk.
In short why use your motorcycle if there is an adequate public transport system – a modal shift?
However it looks like the “ban” plan which was put out to public consultation last month does have opposition as copious news outlets use quotes from, Nguyen Hong Tuyen, Vice President of the Hanoi Bar Association.
Nguyen Hong Tuyen is quoted as saying that: “State agencies must be clear on the legal ground they use to ban outdated vehicles in the inner city now and all vehicles by 2030.” Asking, “How will the residents living in the inner-city travel outside?”
However Vu Van Vien the Director of the Department of Transport in Hanoi, has said that the plan of a ban is being announced to gather opinions from the experts and the public.
So whether it is a plan to ban or to restrict is starting to become blurred around the edges. Bearing in mind this is not the first time a ban has been suggested, the personal transport mobility and the freedom that two wheels give cannot be underestimated thus there may be a bit of treading lightly owards an ultimate ban.
Opposite To Europe
The scale of motorcycle use in Hanoi, where motorcycles are perceived as a problem, is the opposite to Europe where rider groups offer the Powered Two Wheeler as a solution to congestion and a reduction in emissions, if people switch or combine their transport mode to Powered Two Wheelers for commuting into inner cities.
With that comes the ask for exemptions for any emission charges for old or newer motorcycles, free and secure parking, access to bus lanes and advanced stop lines, allowing legal filtering in slow moving traffic, storage facilities for helmets and clothing at transport hubs or park&ride facilities.
However similar to Hanoi cities such as Paris have already banned older motorcycles and other older vehicles from emission zones at certain times, with emission travel charges for “cleaner” vehicles.
London is on the way to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in September 2020. This ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays where all vehicles will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge, motorcycles £12.50, to travel in the zone.
Naturally rider groups in both France and the UK are challenging the inclusion of motorcycles.
However in London the Mayors draft – Transport Strategy – looks to reduce the reliance on private vehicles for personal travel, including motorcycles, by providing Londoners with more opportunities for walking, cycling and using public transport.
There are some positives in this strategy for motorcycles from London:
- Launching a programme of training, education and (working with the police) enforcement activities to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, including the development of a new London Standard for motorcycle training
- Improving the safety of street design by following the guidance set out in TfL’s Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook
- Educating other road users on the shared responsibility for safer motorcycle journeys
- Calling on all boroughs to allow motorcycle access to their bus lanes
- Two-wheeled vehicles could, however, play a more significant role in low-impact freight and servicing trips, especially where these vehicles replace trips by lorry or van and are made by ultra-low emission motorcycle
The main drive in all transport plans is the reduction in emissions and congestion in respect of urban transport and where Powered Two Wheelers sit within these plans and bans is a concern.
Do we have to accept the facts and live with the harsh reality and difficult decisions of swallowing the bitter pill?
Which is the acceptance that ultimately our mode of transport – the motorcycle – will have to change to fit into transport strategies wherever in the world that is.
As our motorcycles in the main are driven by the internal combustion engine – an exemption to charges or bans for whatever reason does not appear to be acceptable.
Main Source – HA Noi Portal – Control of motorcycle emissions to contribute to minimizing environmental pollution