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Bike lanes best in suburban areas, enthusiasts say

WHILE BANGKOK has been the epicentre of almost every grand project in the country, a pro-bicycling enthusiast is convinced bicycle lanes may have to be establish in suburban communities first before being built in the capital.

Thongchai Panswad, a former chairman at the Thailand Cycling Club, said Bangkok experienced so many traffic jams that it could be impossible to suddenly introduce and enforce the use of bicycle lanes there.

"But if we start in suburban zones where land is still ample enough to share with bicycles, a bicycling culture can start. Once it is well established, even Bangkok motorists won't say no to it," he said. After campaigning for bicycling for more than 20 years, Thongchai has come to realise that the sport and pastime must first win the support and appreciation of the majority before lanes are introduced.

"Bicycle lanes are successful in some suburban zones already," he said, adding that lanes provided cyclists with a safe option.

Thongchai said he wanted to see cycling elevated to public policy because it was good for the environment, social and was one of the few activities that all family members could participate in.

Naruebess Santideja once had a serious accident on a main road while cycling. He urged bike riders to take care on main roads because that was the best way to avoid an accident.

He said riding too close to vehicles was too dangerous.

Despite his accident, Naruebess always rides to work, covering the 36km from Ramkhamhaeng Road to Rangsit University.

He urged cyclists to wear helmets and have reflectors installed at the front and back of the bike.

He called on motorists to exercise care with regards to cyclists, especially at crossroads, because sometimes cyclists move faster than expected.

Pradit Phunsarikij, a new cycling enthusiast, said he was also a motorbike rider and drove a car, so he knew to be careful when cycling.

As such, he avoids riding on main roads by himself. "I think on main roads there are more big vehicles, so I think it is dangerous for me to ride a bicycle on those roads," he said.

"But if I have friends riding with me, I am brave to do it [negotiate main roads] because the riding group helps you to be careful."

He said some main roads had bicycle lanes but were not long and cars were always parked on them.


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