Arve Hansen: Motorbike Madness? Development and Two-wheeled Mobility in Hanoi
In Asia In Focus Vol. 2 2015
About the article
Four million motorbikes navigate the narrow streets of Hanoi, having close to completely replaced the Bicycle as a means of transport. This paper approaches the ‘motorbike revolution’ in Vietnam in general and Hanoi in particular at the intersection between political economy and everyday practices. It discusses how regional economic integration following the market reforms known as doi moi has facilitated the surge in motorbikownership, as well as how this has materialised through everyday mobility practices in Hanoi. The paper argues that, given a context of lacking transport alternatives, the motorbike must be understood through itsunique use value. Furthermore, the motorbike can be considered the main reason that the streets of Hanoi are not in a perpetual state of gridlock. Thus, the paper argues that while the high number of motorbikes brings along many challenges, the situation would deteriorate significantly if the millions of motorbikes are to be replaced by their emerging competitor, the private automobile.
Keywords: Motorbikes, Hanoi, mobility, consumption, doi moi, development, Vietnam,