A plan by the local government in Hanoi to get unlicensed cyclos off the road has caused dismay amongst a number of travel and tour operators in the city, Vietnamese media have reported.
Image above, courtesy of Karl Grobl.
Traffic cops in the city have announced that any unlicensed pedicabs stopped in the city will be subject to heavy fines, while repeat offenders could have their cyclos confiscated, reports the Vietnam travel news agency Viet Nam Net.
There are currently about 1,000 cyclos operating in the city, the website said, and only around 300 of these have proper documentation.
Presently, cyclos are banned from driving in the city during rush hour traffic in the mornings and evenings, but are free to operate at any other time.
Still, motorists and police complain that cyclos cause traffic chaos as they tear around Hanoi’s crowded streets.
Often overloaded with hippie backpackers, the rather cumbersome vehicles are unable to stop quickly due to a lack of brakes and their fixed wheels, police have said. This leads to other vehicles giving them right of way, despite their slow speed, because they can be so unpredictable.
“They are a law unto themselves,” said one police officer. “They drive in the wrong lanes, run through stop signs, perform illegal U-turns, park illegally and they hassle tourists.”
However, one travel agency and cyclo tour operator, who asked not to be named, said that the pedicabs were hugely popular with Hanoi tourists, and that if high fines are introduced, it would have a negative impact on Hanoi tourism.
“Tourists love cyclos in the older parts of the city,” she said. “If there are fewer of them around, it will put off tourists from coming here, and will hurt Vietnam tourism in general.”
“It’s too hot for them to walk, and many of them are scared of taking a motorbike taxi.”
Tich Van Tuy, a 57-year old cyclo driver, agreed, saying “Tourists love taking the cyclos to explore the city. If we stop them, the tourists won’t come.”
“We don’t cause the traffic problems, but the cars do. Many of the roads in Hanoi are too narrow for cars, it’s not our fault,” he grumbled.
When asked if his pedicab was licensed, Van Tuy declined to comment.