On a recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I was unsurprised to discover that the city has little or no public transport and the preferred (and possibly the only affordable) method of transport are the ubiquitous Honda oms – the 125 cc cross between a genuine motor scooter and a small motorbike. Around 60% of the market is now in the hands of Chinese manufacturers but the Japanese are still the supplier of choice. The extraordinary thing is that in Ho Chi Minh City there are over 4 million registered motor vehicles of which 3.6 million are motorbikes and the number is growing by 350,000 per year.

Enquires show that the vast majority of Vietnamese has no driver’s licence for a car, have no desire to own a car and couldn’t afford one if they did – everyone simply uses the motorbike. Now, while some complain that this level of road usage must be a major pollutant, I have to say that the motorbike usage in Ho Chi Minh City is far more efficient than the car usage in any comparable sized city elsewhere – multiple usage is very high, they are easy to park, they do hundreds of kilometres per tank-full and petrol is 60 euro cents a litre, and motorbike density is such that speed is low, road usage is high, and major accidents almost non-existent. In addition, the density of motorbikes means that the few private cars, the many taxis, and the other four-wheeled vehicles, have to travel slowly and the probable maximum speed in the city is about 30-40 kph. All in all Ho Chi Minh City has a remarkable efficient and cost effective road usage.

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