Expats in Ho Chi Minh City reject government call to walk to work

Published:  1 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Euro, Travel Abroad
Following a call by Ho Chi Minh’s administration urging residents and public servants to walk to work, expats living and working in Vietnam’s capital are saying they’d rather not take their life into their hands.

The plea, dreamed up by the crowded city’s administration, was aimed at reducing congestion on the roads leading to the city centre, and encourages workers living up to three kilometres from their workplaces to abandon their cars and mass transit journeys and travel on foot. Given the plethora of vehicles of all kinds using the sidewalks as an extra lane, expats in particular have given the idea a unanimous thumbs down.

Expat comments on the subject were sought by reporters from a local English language newspaper with the result much as expected, indicating pedestrian-style living in the city is, at best, a struggle and at worst could prove fatal, especially for children walking to school. One pointed out the majority of expats live in outer districts, making walking to work not an option, and suggested improving mass transit systems and taxing cars as two solutions to the problem. The worst aspect of walking in the city, he added, are the endless streams of motorcycles using the sidewalks.

John Reid, founder of Pasteur Street Brewing Company, suggested the administration’s plea must have been a joke, saying there’s no room for pedestrians on the pavements as they’re crammed with parked scooters, forcing people into the roads to play dodgem cars with the traffic. It’s impossible, he added, to walk safely in the city as the concept of sidewalks for pedestrians hasn’t yet reached Vietnam and drivers don’t give way when walkers are forced onto the road.

He’s also totally against letting children walk to school as cars don’t even stop at marked crosswalks or stoplights and police do nothing to stop dangerous drivers. Another expat pointed out that, even although he enjoyed walking in his home country and often walked the 2.5 kms to his workplace, Vietnam is far too hot for getting about on foot, adding the food stalls lining the streets were another reason why walking in Ho Chi Minh City isn’t the best idea.
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