We Trust the Traffic When Walking Ho Chi Minh City
Moderately curious how you walk across the streets while avoiding injury or destruction, we observe the locals. The results?
by Bob Kerstetter
A typical street in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam looks like this during the day…
Motorbikes travel through an intersection in Ho Chi Minh City. People travel solo and it pairs. Sometimes as many as five people ride a single bike—in these cases a mix of adults and children.
…and this at night…
Bikes travel Ho Chi Minh City streets until late into the night. These move along a major thoroughfare in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
While some intersections and mid-street crosswalks have traffic lights, many do not.
At a rare traffic light, motorbikes and cars wait. While no pedestrians cross here, you do have a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Moderately curious how you walk across while avoiding injury or destruction we observe the locals.
Ho Chi Minh City has 9 million people, 4.5 million motorbikes and very few traffic lights.
Well, believe it or not, you just step out. Out into the intersection. Out into the crosswalk. Out into the traffic. We see others do it and come out okay, so you step out with faith.
And the motorbikes, cars and buses…
They avoid each other while driving around you. You become part of the get-around system in Ho Chi Minh City, where everyone watches for you as well as for themselves. This means you walk with give and take—politely—not as an entitled pedestrian.
While we are sure some vehicle-pedestrian collisions must occur—we saw zero in two weeks—could this type of widespread cultural consideration for the vulnerable happen in Dallas or Atlanta or Washington D.C. or LA?
Walking helps you meet people. Motorbikes, cars, bicycles and people jam the streets of Ho Chi Minh City from dawn until late into the night.
It’s really sort of cool. So, why not?
Motorbikes pack the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) during the day. The dark lines above the bikers are communication cables.
Cross the streets politely. You walk as part of the traffic system. Give and take at a walking pace to avoid collisions.
Look closely and you can see a motorbike carrying three people—two adult women and a child.