In traffic, two- and three-wheelers dominate when measured in terms of vehicle kilometers and emissions. In Hanoi, motor vehicular activity is a major source of emissions, causing both primary and secondary pollution. Ninety percent of the 1.6 million registered private vehicles are motorcycles, making these the major contributor to emissions. In some cities, 40 percent of particulate matter and carbon dioxide, 50 percent of carbon monoxide, and 70 percent of volatile organic compounds are due to motorcycles.
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In metropolitan Manila, the Philippines, and Colombo, Sri Lanka, significant pollution is caused by unmaintained two-stroke engines.
While many cities rely on tailpipe policies and regulations based on fiscal benefits to increase e-bike purchases and promote clean engines, non-tailpipe solutions are also being adopted. In Hanoi, for example, formal public transport systems incorporate two-wheelers assigned as feeders to the systems. With the establishment of new bus routes, the expansion of vehicle fleets, the introduction of bus shelters, and passenger information systems, bus ridership in Hanoi reached 350 million trips by 2005. Transportation in Hanoi now consists of two systems: formal public transport based on a bus fleet on fixed routes, and an area-oriented system based on smaller vehicles. The individual vehicle system consists of informal motorcycle.
Heavy reliance on NMT is a distinguishing feature of Global South nations. In Tianjin, China, for example, 80 percent of all commuter trips are by non-motorized modes, mainly bicycles. The bicycle is also an important mode of transportation in Vietnam. In Indian cities, cycling and walking account for 50-75 percent of community trips in the informal sector, while the remainder are dependent on public transport. Providing adequate facilities for this significant user group is often neglected, making them feel vulnerable and isolated.
Owing to inadequate amenities for the NMT-dependent majority of the Global South, safe travel cannot be assumed. Interviews conducted by Clean Air Asia in 15 cities in nine Asian countries revealed that 81 percent of respondents would prefer motorized transport to walking, since the walking environments were considered unsuitable. Better planning and use of a scale more sympathetic to the needs of Raahgiri has started contributing indirectly towards equitable access to public places, services, and infrastructure. Local government is now obliged to make infrastructure improvements that are accessible to all, and is planning for sustainable transport infrastructure, such as widening footpaths and cycle tracks instead of widening road carriageways. The movement had spread to at least seven Indian cities within a year, and others have similar plans. People are becoming sensitized to the importance of public spaces and issues of accessibility. This space reclamation movement is gaining acceptability among the citizenry.
There is growing recognition that citizens must be engaged in the planning process to ensure that changes are accepted. This is a major shift for the cities of the Global South, where citizens have not previously been involved in any stage of the project life-cycle, even though the project may influence their lives and livelihoods. However, bringing citizens into the conversation poses significant challenges, especially when there is a history of distrust, inadequate and conflicting knowledge, and lack of agreement over the nature of problems between the authorities themselves.