The Hanoi Traffic Police, in co-operation with the Transport Department, aims to tighten the operational management of tourist pedicabs following a spate of traffic violations.

Traffic police and inspectors plan to confiscate any unlicensed pedicabs. From now until the end of September, regular pedicab inspections will take place in and around the Old Quarter area, around the Hoan Kiem Lake and on main routes and busy spots. Pedicabs are set to suffer severe punishments if found violating the law.

By the end of 2011, a list of licensed pedicabs as well as transport companies eligible to provide legal services is set to be complete.

Trinh Van Sy, from the Hanoi Traffic Police Department, said that common violations included driving in the wrong lane, illegal u-turning, running stop signs, driving side-by-side and illegal parking amongst others.

Deputy Transport Inspector Hoang Van Manh said that it was difficult and often a little awkward stopping pedicabs when they carried foreign tourists as such action might leave negative impressions.

Director of the Hanoi Public Security Department Nguyen Duc Nhanh said that his department had only granted licences to 324 pedicabs, under the management of four enterprises but there were some 1,000 pedicabs currently out on the street.

Policeman Sy said that illegal pedicab drivers managed to evade the law by using fake number plates. It was found that in one case the same number plate had been attached to four different pedicabs.

Speaking to Vietnam News on May 18 afternoon, a driver (pedicab 29XL – 0087), parked on the pavement by Le Phung Hieu-Ngo Quyen crossroads at the time, said that had he parked on permitted spots, it would have been too difficult to lure prospective passengers seeing as the parking spots were located too far from tourist hot spots.

"I have been caught parking illegally several times, once receiving a fine of 150,000 VND (7.3 USD). We normally try to avoid official inspections by pretending we are about to move on."

Anne Winter, a German tourist, told Vietnam News that pedicabs were unique to Vietnam . "They are perfect alternatives for those too scared to drive motorbikes. Pedicabs travel slowly which gives you ample opportunity to enjoy the view.

"The pedicab we took was quite nice, maybe because it had been arranged via my travel agent which somehow guaranteed its quality. I didn't experience any traffic violations during my half day ride around the city". /.