A fleet of electric bicycles may be unleashed on the center of Ho Chi Minh City as part of a plan by a private firm to facilitate public transport and address traffic congestion.
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport has asked the municipal People’s Committee for permission to pilot e-bicycle rental in the city center, with tech support from the privately-owned Vietnam Smart IOT Technology Company Limited.
Up to 1,000 e-bicycles are expected to be in service within six months in District 1, according to an e-bicycle rental experiment submitted to the committee by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport.
The plan does not specify any timeframe for the rental to come on stream.
It is envisaged that the scheme will stretch out across the city and include 74 self-service, on-sidewalk docking stations, each approximately 300 meters apart, and in close proximity to bus stations and terminals.
Rental fees may be waived during the first one to three months of operation as a means of incentivizing use.
After this, riders will pay VND3,000 for the initial ten minutes and then VND1,500 for every additional five minutes.
The payment will only be available via prepaid smartphones, rather than with physical cards or cash.
To access the service, users will have to install the Vimotor app, developed by the Vietnam Smart IOT Technology Company Limited, on their smartphone, go to the nearest docking station with real-time availability, and then scan a QR code on the e-bike to unlock it.
Riders will be expected to return the e-bicycle to its proper place and ensure the lock is activated at the end of their trip; however, a temporary lock is available when users are unable complete their ride.
The network is scheduled to cover the city in its entirety with 5,000 e-bikes expected to be operational by the end of year three.
The introduction of e-bicycle rental here suggests a move toward rolling out e-bikes as has already been witnessed in a number of European countries, including Germany, France and Spain, where conventional bicycles enjoy a long history of use.
Heavy traffic is a frequent sighting in Ho Chi Minh City, where millions of motorbikes swarm all over the streets during rush hour.