In my past two weeks of travelling from South to North of this gorgeous country i have documented many different uses of bicycles and have been very fascinated by the differences between the European bicycle culture and the Vietnamese bicycle culture… it appears to the Vietnamese the bicycle is just another form of transportation and is not something to cherish, where as in Europe we very much like to care for our noble steeds….
Riders in the cities in Vietnam are a unique breed of person, they are able to stay unruffled and unconcerned even when they are caught up in a tornado of motorbikes. They are often seen cycling down the wrong side of the road dodging vehicles or using their bikes to carry as many things as they possibly can balance on a bike! In some areas a bicycle is used to transport children to and from school with the child balanced vicariously on the rear rack.
On the whole the roads in Vietnam are governed by a ‘each man for himself’ system with barely any use of traffic lights and lines on the road which look like zebra crossings but, in fact, aren’t! However, this system works for the country as it keeps the traffic flowing but keeps the numbers of push bikes used in the bigger cities to a very low number.
In a country where cars are extremely expensive motorbikes or bicycles are very cheap alternatives. As we make our way into the centre of the country from the south the amount of bicycles being used on roads rises enormously as the roads are safer.
Whilst in Hoi An i had the opportunity to join a bicycle tour through the countryside which involved using one of Vietnam’s most common bicycle design; ‘the sit up and beg’ style. These bikes were one size fits all, as is the norm here, and featured very large squishy saddles and lots of rust (due to the humid climate). Another thing about the bikes, they all have a single speed cassette here, no more gears are ever needed as the land is either flat or mountainous
here, no middle ground.