Motoring from stall to stall: another angle on food miles...

by Rob Lewis

This week (19-26 June) is Bike Week – so perfect timing for a bike-centric blog from our ex-colleague on his international energy-saving, fact-finding mission…

Vietnam: a country where the motorbike is king of the road. Seemingly everyone rides around on one, from teenagers to little old ladies. Consequently the streets of Vietnamese cities are thronging with motorbikes humming and hooting along, making crossing the roads for pedestrians like walking the gauntlet, particularly in bigger cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

The Vietnamese hate to walk and will ride their motorbikes for even the shortest of journeys. A great example of this was when the ticket collector at the entrance to a waterfall we visited rode twenty metres to fetch some extra tickets then back again on his motorbike, performing a three point turn at each end because of the narrowness of the road!

Only those not wealthy enough to afford a motorbike (you can pick one up for a couple of hundred pounds here) travel by bicycle. This makes my wife and me a bit of an anomaly. As we are western, people assume we are rich; but we travel by bicycle, the transport choice of the poor.

Many people have asked us why we travel by bicycle but our attempts to explain how it enables us to see a great deal more than if we travelled by bus or car have failed to convince them. ‘But you could afford big powerful motorbike, very big one…’  We don’t even try to start on carbon emissions or saving fuel…

Come on, you Vietnamese, get on your bike!

See Rob’s travel blog for more travel updates as he and his wife cycle from New Zealand to London.