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Walking streets expansion could mess with Saigon traffic, experts caution

A family walks on the sidewalk along motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1. Experts fear the city cannot afford to give up more walking space given its heavy traffic.
A family walks on the sidewalk along motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. Experts fear the city cannot afford to give up more walking space given its heavy traffic.

Saigon turning more downtown streets into walking zones could provoke traffic chaos, experts warn.
Urban development experts are advising against Saigon turning a major part of its District 1 into a massive pedestrian zone.

Instead, they said, the city would be better off developing smaller walking zones in different areas.

The city’s Department of Architecture and Planning submitted a proposal to the administration late last month, based on the city’s approved urbanization master plan.

Under the proposal, Le Loi Street and Nguyen Hue Street, which already has an exclusive pedestrian stretch down its middle, the Opera House park, and the Ben Thanh Market walking square will form an unbroken stretch of walking space in the downtown area with lots of attractions.

The department noted that careful landscape research and planning would be required because the Nguyen Hue – Le Loi intersection would become a key crossroad since it lies at a confluence of rapidly rising constructions, malls and other commercial establishments.

Also passing below Le Loi will be the first metro route, whose construction is ongoing. The Le Loi Street section will be handed back to the city by the Urban Railway Management next year.