Hanoi slated to ban motorbikes, ‘the culture of Vietnam,’ by 2030 — Why you should buy an used car

Bikes and bustling in Hanoi during rush hour.

The entrepreneur’s business takes at least a dozen tourists around the Vietnamese capital every day, by way of the city’s staple mode of transportation.

But all that could change in a few short years.

The Department of Transportation of Hanoi, a city of over 5 million motorbikes and 7 million people, has recently announced plans to ban all such bikes by 2030.

Citing environmental concerns and severe road congestion, the office released a statement describing an “alarming” increase in bikes in Hanoi.

Lien Nguyen founded and runs her company “I Love Hue Tour,” an all-female-run bike company that guides tourists by means of Hanoi’s beloved motorbike.

The number of motorbikes and cars in any area of Hanoi is 1.34 times the roads’ capacity, with up to 3.72 times in some crowded central areas, the government said.

Residents like Nguyen understand the worries, but also describe the bikes as integral to Hanoi’s unique identity.

“It’s very touchy because a motorbike is the culture of Vietnam,” Nguyen told CNN. “It will save the environment for Vietnamese people, but a car is very expensive and not many people in Vietnam can afford to buy a car.”

It’s much cheaper to buy a bike, and there are few public transport options.

Motorbikes are a way of life in Hanoi.

“With public transport now, you cannot go far away and whenever you want,” said Nguyen.

The released statement promises better public transportation by 2030, and it also proposes restricted hours and bike fees in the coming years.

That, however, has a long way to go. Right now, the city has close to nothing in terms of accessible and widespread transportation. With a congested city, the cycle continues as everyone heads for their own bike.

But the hectic nature of the roads seems to be embraced by Hanoi’s residents.

Lien Nguyen’s company “I Love Hue Tour” shows at least a dozen tourists around Hanoi everyday by motorbike.

“From outside you may see only chaos, but there’s some rules when you’re riding a motorbike in Hanoi,” Javier Puig Saura, a Spanish diplomat who was recently posted in Vietnam, told CNN. “So once you learn there is no problem. You just flow like a drop of water in a big river.”

“In Hanoi, you can see that life happens on a motorbike,” he continued. “People can sleep on a motorbike, carry anything on a motorbike, make love on a motorbike, and do anything on a motorbike.”

Hanoi isn’t the first city to make plans for a motorbike ban. More than 30 cities in mainland China, including Beijing and Shenzhen, have restricted or banned them over the last 15 years, according to Chinese media.

Yet, in Hanoi, bikes are clearly more than just a way to get around. Logistical solutions to road jams won’t keep stagnant an identity so foundational to its residents.

That’s why Nguyen founded her company — to show visitors the city she loves, the way she does.

“If there is a ban in 2030, my company will not survive in Hanoi, and that will be very sad for me.”

CNN