Monday, September 26, 2005

Bicycles: An Endangered Species

Bicyclist in Hue
Originally uploaded by yellojkt.
As recently as five years ago, the sterotypical desctiption of major cities in Vietnam included a reference to streets choked with bicycles. As wages have risen since economic reforms, the scooter has replaced the bicycle in most areas.

Only in the more remote areas will you see bicycles still used as the primary means of transportation. Here, a young woman is using her bicycle as a delivery truck. A steady stream of similarly laden bicycles passed beneath our hotel window in Hue.

In Saigon or Hanoi, these would have been scooters laden down with twice as much. We saw scooters carrying anything you can imagine being balanced on the back of one: Chickens in coops, piglets in cages, construction rebar, huge stacks of 5 gallon water bottles, you name it. Unlike bicycles that still require human muscle for propulsion, the only limit to what can go on a scooter is imagination and balance.

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