The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport will ask the central government for permission to carry out a pilot plan to let high-capacity motorbikes use expressways that are currently intended for automobiles only. Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang made the statement at a meeting on Wednesday, saying he agreed to a proposal that high-capacity bikes – those with cylinder volumes of 175 cc or over – be allowed on expressways.
Accordingly, the ministry will set up a plan for such bikes to travel on three expressways, including the Hanoi-Lao Cai expressway, which links the capital city to the northern province of Lao Cai; the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway, which connects the city to neighboring Dong Nai Province; and the Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong express line, which runs from the city to southern Tien Giang Province.
Nguyen Van Huyen, head of the ministry’s Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, said his agency will send a document to the central government asking for permission for the pilot plan.
If approved by the government, the plan will be implemented for six months, Huyen said.
Minister Thang has asked agencies concerned to make preparations for the pilot plan. As the country has not limited the import of high-capacity bikes and grants driver’s licenses to bikers, such vehicles should not be limited to travel only in lanes that are intended for bikes below 175 cc as at present, the minister said.
He asked why authorities do not allow high-capacity bikes to share the same roads with cars, a practice that has been applied in many other countries, even when expressways are quite desolate on normal days, except on holidays. “If current laws do not allow such a practice in Vietnam, we can ask for permission from the prime minister to pilot it,” Minister Thang said. Upon completion of the pilot plan, agencies concerned will review it to assess its outcomes, the minister said.
If allowing high-capacity bikes to use expressways is proved reasonable through the piloting, the ministry will propose that relevant laws be amended to include it, he said.
At a workshop on “Traffic Safety and High-Capacity Motorbikes” held in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday last week, both users of such motorbikes and officials at traffic agencies proposed that high-capacity bikes should be allowed to use lanes for cars or on expressways.
The event was jointly organized by the National Traffic Safety Committee, Harley-Davidson Vietnam, and the Saigon HOG (Harley Davidson Owners Group) Club.
Pham Manh Luan, a member of the club, said exams for driver’s licenses of category A1 (with cylinder volume from 50 cc to less than 175 cc) and A2 (from 175 cc and over) are different, with examinees for an A2 driver’s license facing a more difficult examination than those for an A1 driver’s license.
However, when traveling on streets, both types of bikes have to use the same lane with the same speed limits, Luan said, considering this unreasonable and dangerous.
Another participant explained that high-capacity bikes cannot travel at 30-40km per hour like bikes under 175 cc, because this practice will damage their engines.
But if they travel at higher speeds, they will violate regulations on speed limits and face penalties, the participant added.
Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Traffic Safety Committee, said high-capacity bikes usually run at high speed, so their drivers feel uncomfortable when having to travel in the same lanes as those under 175 cc.
Sharing the same view with Tuong, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Huu Toan, deputy head of the Patrol and Control Division under the Ministry of Public Security’s Traffic Police Department, said a number of countries allow high-capacity bikes to use car lanes.