Cause of Traffic Congestion

Sperling & Clausen (2002) suggested that there are the common causes, sharing among developing countries, account for traffic congestion in developing countries are often due to the concentration of large numbers of people, lack of public transportation system, rapid increase in the private vehicles, low investment in infrastructure and inadequate parking control. In the context of Hanoi, the project found out that the key causes for congestion issue are as the following:


The first main cause is due to large numbers of cars and motors on the small streets of Hanoi. As the above discussion, the living standard of Vietnam has substantially improved in the recent years. Moreover, the overseas vehicle prices are getting cheaper because of low tax under the international agreements. Therefore, the demand and trend to own private vehicles is dramatically increased.

(Source: Department of Transportation of Hanoi Government, 2011)

From 2000 to 2010, the total cars and motorbikes steadily increased from below 1 million to over 3 million vehicles in Hanoi, include 800 thousand cars and over 2.2 million motorbikes (Hanoi Department of Transportation, 2010). However, Hanoi’s 36 classic streets  was built nearly 1000 years ago with the original design of short and narrow streets for pedestrians and cyclists. As the consequence, traffic congestion issue at 36 classic streets is inevitable.


The second cause is the ineffective transportation rule. Almost all the roads in Hanoi are designed from 2 to 4 lanes, and there are just 2 lanes in Hanoi’s 36 classic streets with one lane for car and another for motorbike or cycle. If vehicles drivers, for a reason, do not obey transportation rule then the congestion is very easy to occur. When the vehicles go to wrong lane or cross the red light, then the more likely the dead-block is about to occur in traffic flow. It is suggested that when the traffic is congested with the vehicles on the wrong lanes, it then becomes very difficult for the dead-block to be broken, especially during peak hours (Downs, 2004). On average, there are 300 cases violating the transportation rule every day in Hanoi, most of them are red light cross and wrong lane (Hanoi Department of Transportation, 2011).