Cycling culture differences: from New Zealand to Vietnam
"Have you ever wondered what people from other countries use bicycles for? How does a bike means to them? How about New Zealand cycling culture from the eyes of a foreigner? "
We all know that bicycle is one of the earliest and most common forms of transportation in the world and almost everyone can use it. The way we bike is similar: hop on the bike’s seat and pedal off!
However, cycling culture is certainly different between countries and countries.
My name is Jean, I’m from Vietnam, a far away Asian country to New Zealand.
Our riding culture takes a very different form compare to here. The first time setting my feet into the country, I have to admit that the one thing I’ve noticed immediately is: how fast New Zealand cyclists are on the road.
From a foreigner’s point of view, riding a bike in this country, especially in Auckland city, have left me with many exciting thoughts.
"Fast and furious riders"
That’s the very first impression (even until now) of mine about cyclists and the cycling culture in this beautiful and greeny country. It feels like riders here were always in a hurry or were attending a cycling competition such as Tour De France or something!
I know that in New Zealand, it is the law for cyclists to keep a constant speed when joining the traffic. This is to guarantee a safe and balance flow of movement (or else you might be in danger and will get honked…or hit by a car or a bus!).
But isn’t the cycling speed here just too fast?
Compare to New Zealand, cyclists in my country ride very slow. This is because the traffic in Vietnam is a lot crazier. Why? Because we have about 89 billion people (lol!). There are tons of cars and especially scooters on the road. Therefore, even if you want to ride so fast, you can’t.
"Great law abiders"
If you have ever travelled to Vietnam, you’d realised how kind and law abiding New Zealand cyclists are. Almost everyone wearing helmets, reflective vests, even knees and elbow pads.
You don’t have to wear any special clothing nor equipment when riding on the streets of Vietnam (however, if you want to travel long distant, it is your responsibility to be prepared and to protect yourself by wearing the special gadgets).
"Strong and passionate cyclists"
Why do I think this? Well, New Zealand and Auckland city in particular has just have too many hills and up slopes (even in the city central). However cyclists here don’t seem to bother much and still being so passionate about this eco transportation option.
In Vietnam, we don’t really have hills or slopes unless you travel far away from big cities to the suburban areas. If there were many hills or slopes, I guess we would like to use a scooter or a car much more than a bicycle.
"Bicycles for casual usages"
Even to the use of the vehicle, I think it is vastly different if comparing New Zealand to Vietnam.
People here seem to ride bicycles as a hobby during free times, as a mean of excising or for transporting a short distant from one place to the other rather than for any other uses.
In Vietnam, we use bicycles not just to go to school or for short trips. We use the vehicle to travel long distances, to carry merchandises and to make a living as well. You can easily spot many bicycles on the road that carry some sort of merchandises: from food (xôi, bánh rán, bánh mì etc.) to flowers. These people actually cycle around the city to sell these goods. Some even ride around to offer services like sharpening your cooking knives!
Selling beautiful, fresh flowers using bikes.
Selling traditional, street food using bikes.
Many Vietnamese make a living with their bike. He’s going around offering cooking knives sharpening for you!
I think even though we can’t compare to other older bicycle cultures like France, Denmark or the Netherlands, New Zealand still has great ranges of different bicycles available: from sporty, bulky, to elegant and urban-ish. If you pay more attentions, you can see that there are just so many different types of bicycles appear on the street of Auckland.
My country, Vietnam, in comparison, may have lesser types (You need to order from overseas if you want something very particular). We usually favoured simple, minimalist style of city bikes. Japanese manufactured bicycles are most popular here. Also to the recent times, riders, especially high school aged students have shown more interests in e-bikes due to their conveniences.
Vietnamese students enjoy riding e-bikes as a trend due to the conveniences these vehicles bring.
It is very rare to see cool vintage, urban style bicycles in Vietnam. If you enjoy riding around the city with such beautiful vehicles, you need to make a lot of efforts to order some overseas. And of course, it ain’t come cheap! However, here in New Zealand, LBNZ has offered us great chances to own a variety of beautiful urban bikes. Not only with great qualities but also with extremely affordable prices!