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19 October 2011 / leggypeggy

Pedestrians—the forgotten souls of Vietnam

Any chance of crossing the road? No, not really.

The greatest challenge in Vietnam is crossing the road. This country is simply not set up for pedestrians. There are zebra crossing painted on the roads, but no driver honours them. The roads are a sea of vehicles, and there is definitely a pecking order. Buses are at the top. When you hear a bus blasting its horn, everyone dives out of the way.

Cars are next, then motorbikes and scooters, then bicycles, the hand-driven carts.

Pedestrians are last. We’re dirt.

And the honking is incredible. I wish I had a movie camera and microphone so you could experience it with me. Earlier today I saw a fire engine but, for all the horn honking, I didn’t hear it’s siren until it was about 10 feet from me.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) supposedly has 4 million motorbikes, but I think the traffic in Hanoi is slightly worse because the vehicles in Hanoi just never stop. Here’s a typical sampling of my being-honked-at experiences in the last few days. They all wanted ME to get out of the way.

The convenience of drive-through shopping. After we worked our way through another part of the market, we saw about 10 motorbikes on the other side—waiting their turn to enter. It never occurred to anyone to park and go in.

• A motorbike that was behind me on the footpath.

• A motorbike that was going the wrong way on a one-way street.

• A car that was behind me on the footpath. It drove into an exit-only driveway and took a shortcut down the footpath to drive into the entrance-only driveway.

• A car that was turning left over the zebra crossing when I was walking on the green light.

• A motorbike that drove around four vehicles that were stopped at a red light when I had the green light.

• Two motorbikes that were doing drive-through shopping at a nearby market.

And the list goes on and on.

Vehicles rule and the sooner all the pedestrians are bumped off, the better.

As Poor John said, it would be so easy to fix. Just slap a 20,000 dong ($10) fine on every offence. Great revenue raiser. And think of all the policemen they could employ!

One Comment

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  1. Louise M Oliver / Oct 19 2011 7:44 am

    Goodness! That’s terribly unsafe for mere mortals hiking it. The Vietnamese Government, unlike the ACT Government, obviously doesn’t want to reduce use of private motor vehicles. And fancy people driving through markets and up and over footpaths. Thanks again for sharing Peggy.

    Best wishes


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