Five major cities, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho, have been ordered to pilot public bicycle rental services in downtown areas.

An order issued by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai says this is one of the measures being implemented towards increasing traffic safety and reducing congestion in the cities by 2015.

He also instructed the cities to build a detailed road map to limit the use of personal vehicles and improve public transport by 2015.

The instructions follow up on a proposal submitted by the Transport Ministry in November 2013 on developing different means of transport in big cities in Vietnam.

Khuat Viet Hung, a senior ministry official, told the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that several private companies were ready to provide the services at "very reasonable" rates.

He said the challenge was logistics – authorities had to figure out where the rental bicycles can be parked and how to run the services efficiently.

The old quarters in Hanoi and District 1 in HCM City are ideal to pilot the service,s he said, adding that residents and visitors should be encouraged, not forced, to ride bicycles.-VNA