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Experts urged to consider subsidising public bicycles

Tuesday, 28/11/2023 | 10:58:22 [GMT +7] A  A

After nearly two years of piloting public bicycle services, the biggest difficulty was the lack of infrastructure for the vehicle.

Residents try out the public bicycle service in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh

Public bicycles bring huge benefits, but businesses investing in the services face many difficulties and challenges in maintaining their work, say experts.

Đỗ Bá Quân, Chairman of the Trí Nam Digital Transport Company, told a recent discussion panel that public bicycles had been deployed in six cities including HCM City, Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, Quy Nhơn, Hải Phòng and Vũng Tàu.

The service not only received attention of the Government and people, but also foreign politicians such as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte who recently visited Việt Nam.

This was the driving force and basis to develop stronger public bicycle services, he said.

However, Quân admitted that after nearly two years of piloting, the biggest difficulty was the lack of infrastructure for the vehicle.

Therefore, Trí Nam Company proposed that as the country does not have separate infrastructure for bicycles, it could allow bicycles to share pavements with pedestrians.

In practice, many other countries in the world allow bicycles to use the same paths as pedestrians.

Phan Trường Thành, head of the Planning and Finance Division under the Hà Nội Department of Transport, said that Hà Nội had licensed Trí Nam Company to build bicycle stations at nearly 80 locations.

Locations at the best places in Hà Nội were given priority. They are all in inner-city districts, near stations, schools, parks, shopping centres and tourist areas.

“Infrastructure specifically for bicycles in Hà Nội is not synchronised. Even though it is already in the traffic planning, it has not been implemented in reality,” said Thành.

Currently, the transport department is urgently researching two separate bicycle routes that are eligible to be deployed next year, including the Tô Lịch riverside road and the one around the Hòa Bình Park.

In the long term, to encourage people to switch from motorbikes to bicycles, Thành suggested measures such as 70 per cent of the parking spaces would be for bicycles and only 30 per cent for motorbikes.

In addition, the Hà Nội transport department will also have specific policies for public means of transport in general and public bicycles in particular in the Law on Road Traffic and Law on Capital.

According to Nguyễn Hoàng Hải, Vice Chairman of the Hà Nội Public Transport Association, conditions for people to access public transport services have many shortcomings and obstacles.

Some small alleys cannot be accessed by buses, so people's main means of transport is motorbikes.

The target should be converting motorbikes to walking or bicycles, he said.

According to the municipal planning, Hà Nội will develop 10 railway lines and along the lines, the city can arrange parking places for public bicycles.

Hải recommended that the Trí Nam Company closely follow the urban infrastructure development and new routes.

"New transportation corridors are fertile ground to survey and expand the public bicycle transportation network," Hải said.

Huge potential

Regarding whether it is necessary to give subsidised prices for public bicycles, Hải said that the State supported the effort with policies and legal regulations so that the service could be developed in the right direction, and then would subsidise the price later.

“Compared to other means of transport, the current price of public bicycles is still cheap, affordable for the people,” said Hải.

Affirming that the State had only supported but not subsidised prices for public bicycle services, Thành added that renting parking infrastructure had been supported by the city throughout the past year in the pilot programme.

State agencies always aimed to harmonise the interests of the State, the people and businesses.

“The viewpoint of specialised agencies and the Hà Nội People's Committee is that they will provide continuous and regular support for public bicycles during its work. In the future, a comprehensive review and assessment are needed to provide more complete and perfect policies," said Thành.

In the coming time, Hà Nội plans to have cities in the northern and western areas of the Hồng (Red) River.

They are potential centres for developing public transport services, including bicycles.

Source: Vietnam News