Although key Bangkok governor candidates have announced what appear to be good policies for city cyclists, the chairman of the Thai Cycling for Health Association is not impressed.
Thongchai Panswad feels all candidates are simply trying to woo votes and have failed to present a well-integrated solution.
MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra from the Democrat Party, Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen, and independent candidates like Suharit Siamwalla and Sereepisuth Temeeyaves have all vowed to provide better bicycle lanes for Bangkok residents.
“If they are serious about making a better environment for cyclists, they need to have a holistic approach,” Thongchai said.
He believes the new governor should integrate policies and improve the city’s infrastructure. For example, if footpaths are improved, people – with disabilities or not – would be able to travel safely and conveniently and leave space on footpaths to accommodate cyclists as well.
Thongchai also recommended the creation of convenient and safe bicycle parking areas.
According to the Traffic and Transportation Department, Bangkok has 33 bicycle paths. Ten of them are on tourism routes. The total length of bicycle paths is 200 kilometres. But that is only 2.5 per cent of the 8,000 km of roads in Bangkok.
Thongchai hoped the new city governor would take into account that Bangkok has vast areas and only some, like Bang Khunthien, are well developed for cyclists.
Nonlany Unwiwatkul, co-founder of the ‘Bicycle Campaign’ Facebook page, said she would gather information on candidates’ pledges about cycling and present them to whoever wins next Sunday.
“The new Bangkok governor should combine all the good polices about cycling and implement them,” she said.
Nonlany said she would like railings – or lines of plants – along bicycle lanes to provide greater safety for cyclists. She said such features would shield cyclists from large vehicles to an extent. “Plants would provide shade too.”
She also called for more public parks. Some people were riding bikes on roads these days, but for were doing it for exercise, she said, not daily transport. These cyclists turned to the roads because they found it inconvenient to ride their bikes in public parks.
Lumpini Park, for example, allows cycling only between 10am and 3.30pm. During this period, the sun is usually too glaring and most people work at that time.
“I think eventually Bangkokians will need more areas or more public parks to work out,” she said.