For years, HealthBridge has worked closely with the local government of Hoi An, a small city in central Vietnam, to improve public spaces. More recently, our work has focused on promoting cycling and further reducing the use of motorized vehicles. Cars are already banned in the old quarter and motorbikes limited to certain periods of the day. The work was further enhanced by being awarded a grant from the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) to work on cycling.
To celebrate World Bicycle Day in 2019, the local government of Hoi An, in collaboration with HealthBridge, GIZ, World Resources Institute, and QIQ (a start-up company based in Singapore) organized a festive event. The local government formally announced a five-year plan to reduce the use of motorized vehicles and promote cycling. During the event, the new bicycle share program was also launched. Youth competed in a fun contest to test out the new dockets and locks, and participants played a local version of bingo, which has been acknowledged by UNESCO as a world heritage. Then the participants all cycled together on the new bicycles around the Old Quarter of Hoi An.
Hoi An has many advantages to make it a cycle-friendly city, and has already been voted by Agoda as one of the best cities in Asia for cycling. However, the increase in tourists, and in motorized vehicles including taxis and buses, had made cycling more dangerous and less pleasant. With the government's new five-year plan, welcome changes were made to improve the conditions for cycling. In particular, a bicycle lane that connects the city centre to the popular Bang An beach was created and improvements were made to five intersections. Since the start of 2020, the program shifted from tourists to local residents as a way to respond to the difficult reality of the pandemic. Changes included shifting bike sharing stations to residential areas as a way of ensuring mobility of vulnerable groups and local dwellers.
The goal of the project was to benefit the residents of Hoi An as well as visiting tourists, an outcome achieved by the many changes. Hoi An has created a successful model that can be replicated in other parts of Vietnam, an initiative currently being undertaken by the national government with HealthBridge and WRI as partners.