The Ho Chi Minh City administration is considering calling on its residents, particularly public servants, to walk to school or work to contribute to the joint efforts to curb traffic congestion.
City-dwellers should take up walking if they live within 3km from schools or workplaces, the city’s deputy chairman Le Van Khoa suggested at a meeting on Friday.
Khoa put his proposal up for feedback from the meeting delegates, who are representatives of municipal departments and agencies and district-level administrations, and received 100 percent supporting votes.
The deputy chairman said walking will help residents strengthen their health and reduce their transportation cost, while bringing in many benefits for the society such as reducing traffic jams and air pollution.
Nguyen Van Danh, deputy director of the city’s Department of Construction said he totally supports the idea but is concerned about its feasibility.
Danh elaborated that it is difficult to get people to go to work on foot because most of sidewalks citywide are either occupied by street stalls or improperly used as motorbike parking spaces by shops and restaurants.
Danh thus suggested that the city should first try to clear the sidewalks on selected streets before carrying out the proposal.
In the meantime, Bui Thi Diem Thu, deputy director of the municipal Department of Education and Training, is concerned that walking in the hot and humid weather is inconvenient for female teachers as they have to wear ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese long dress.
She also added that most parents will not feel comfortable letting their children walking to school on fears of robbery or kidnapping.
Responding to Thu’s concerns, Khoa said that female teachers can wear casual clothes while walking and get changed when they arrive at schools.
Other delegates suggested that the required distance be lowered to 2km or 1km.
Despite these concerns, as the majority of delegates already voted support of the idea, Khoa tasked the city’s traffic safety committee with preparing the official draft of the proposal to submit to the municipal administration for consideration by the end of next month.
“We should have things get done as soon as possible,” he pressed.
Also at Friday’s meeting, Khoa suggested that in 2017, 50 percent of schools in the city must have school buses to transport students instead of having them go to school on their own vehicles to further reduce traffic congestions.
The city’s deputy chairman also addressed the controversial installations of barriers to prevent motorists from crossing over to the sidewalks on many streets in District 1 over the last few weeks.
The barriers have been complained for causing inconvenience for pedestrians, especially the disabled and elderly.
Responding to these concerns, Khoa asked the city’s transport department to review the appropriate distance between barriers and install them accordingly so that people on wheelchairs can access and move along the sidewalk more easily.