This blog is very much about highlighting the need for action on pavement parking issues in the UK, however the Google alert I have set up for ‘pavement parking’ has been throwing up various article about a saga playing out in Ha Noi, Vietnam at present.
The current situation was summed up by one recent visitor who said: ‘Hanoi has great pavements, but they are useless as they are full of motorbikes‘ and the newspaper article announcing the ban this February explains: ‘The ban was brought in to try and ease traffic chaos and create more rooms for pedestrians, who are forced to climb over vehicles or walk on the roads to avoid parked vehicles‘.
When reading the article it becomes clear that there is also a well developed system of charging people to use these pavement ‘parking lots’: ‘One worker named Huong at a parking lot run by Hanh Ly Trading and Service Co Ltd in Nguyen Xi Street told the Viet Nam News she knew about the ban, but the local authority had issued no notices. Le Ngoc Anh, a resident in the Old Quarter’s Hang Chieu Street, said the ban should be carried out immediately as parking lots in the Old Quarters usually occupied all the pavements and encroached on the roads.‘
I like the way the article goes on to talk about people driving ‘huge slow cars’ with one occupant: ‘Ha Noi is home to about 3.8 millions of motorbikes and almost 400,000 huge, slow moving cars that often carried a single passenger. Among them, about 184,000 cars and 2.3 millions motorbikes are operating in inner city.‘ The population of the Metropolitan Area is 6.5 million so over half of the population appear to have a motorbike and under 10% have a car.
However…. there was clearly been a bit of a political backlash, and Vietnam News reported today that the ban is to be ‘eased’ stating that ‘Ha Noi has approved a Transport Department proposal to lift the ban on parking by all vehicles on the pavements of some streets in the inner city to meet the overwhelming demand for parking spaces‘. The article then explains that any parking: ‘would have to meet requirements including leaving at least 1.5 metres for pedestrians and not blocking the entire pavement‘. The 1.5 m bit sounds sensible, however if that is the case then why the need to say ‘not blocking the entire pavement‘ in the same sentence? Is there already an acceptance that the 1.5 meters is not going to be met?
In other parts of the city, however. there are moves to impose a ban on parking: ‘The HCM City People’s Committee has asked authorities in districts to take drastic measures to stop pavements being used for parking as well as for commercial purposes. Nguyen Trung Tin, deputy chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that districts should strictly impose fines so that pavements could remain clear. He asked that the city to revoke the licences of shops that used pavements for parking vehicles. “Each district had to impose a deadline for pavement clearance and ensure that deadlines were met,” Tin said.’
Finally, here are a couple of youtube clips of traffic in the city, not for the faint-hearted, but it seems to function in a crazy sort of way! You can see how the pavements are completely blocked by motorbikes at one point in the first video.