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Bicycle Safety Lanes for Chiang Mai?

Another cynical cyclist

Agrees with Scott Jones on driving

Airline Compensation - who pays in the end?

Bicycle Safety Lanes for Chiang Mai?

Dear Editor,
I came to CM to enjoy the city on my bicycle. Watching the Loi Kratong Parade, I met members of the Sunday Cycling Club. I learned of the planned opening of the city’s first bike lanes. I was overjoyed. CM is a good candidate to become a bike friendly city. It is compact, beautiful and has many attractions. Unfortunately, there is no safe route to cycle across town. Safety is the concern of every bike rider and every car driver who doesn’t want to pay for an accident with a bicycle.

I stayed an extra week to celebrate the opening bike lanes on Dec 5, 2005. The celebration was cancelled, as there was no official announcement. I was not the only one eagerly waiting. The day before, as we pedaled up the mountain on the annual ride to Doi Sutep, the 300 members of the Sunday Cycling Club were all talking about the up-coming bike lanes. Someone mentioned that the Governor, the Mayor and the Police Chief all support the pilot program. Everyone is in favor of it: why doesn’t it just get announced and get started?

Of course, I am still here four weeks later, enjoying the hospitality of Lanna, but I cannot help but wonder: when will the lanes be opened?

My home city, Santa Cruz, California, has similar pilot programs, to test out new bike lanes for safety and ease of use. I celebrate Chiang Mai for testing out this new solution to the traffic and pollution problems that I have seen in Bangkok. But do not wait too long to start the bike lanes, it will take time for drivers and cyclists to learn how to share the road. Thailand rice farmers have always helped insure the success of the kingdom. But you cannot harvest the rice without first planting the seedlings. Chiang Mai needs to prepare for the wave of bicycle commuters and tourists by planting bicycle lanes now. When will the time be better?

Jeff Caplan
Santa Cruz, California.

Another cynical cyclist

The Editor:
While cars and trucks zoom by, slow but steady is the path of bicycle riders on their way to work or tourist destinations in Chiang Mai. Over the past year, the Governor has added their support to the proposal by the Sunday Cycling Club to establish safer bike routes in Chiang Mai.

Last year 120 cyclists rode 700 km from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to call for safe bicycle routes in the city. These sweaty riders were joined by another 200 local riders converging on Thapae Gate. At the welcoming ceremony, Governor Suwat Tantipat and the mayor declared that Chiang Mai would have new, safer bicycle commuter lanes within the year. The Traffic Commission of Chiang Mai had approved the lanes on Loi Kroh road on September
13, 2004, because it is more friendly for cyclists to ride two ways. The Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert added his support to the plan because it provides a safer way for tourists on bike to move around between night bazaar and the old city.

When will the 15 month old dream become a reality? Vice Mayor Pornchai suggested the bike route be kicked off on December 5, as part of the King’s Birthday celebration. But with all the festivities, the official announcement seems to have slipped through the cracks. The Chief of Police, recently gave his verbal support to the project. All that is missing is his signature on the official announcement for the bike boulevard.

For more information contact: Dr. Nirandorn (Dorn) Potikanond, nirandorn_
[email protected] or check out Chiang Mai Cycling Network : www.bikecm.org.

Dr. Nirandorn (Dorn) Potikanond

Agrees with Scott Jones on driving

Dear Chiangmai Mail,
Great article there by Scott Jones on the traffic in Thailand. I have been living here for 5 years, I love CM and it’s the best city to live in but I am still amazed how they are driving and I mean all over Thailand. I mean how come that I should break because someone is doing a BAD overtaking? Why should I WAIT when I have green light at a traffic light?

“Common sense” is something I have very hard to see in Thailand it’s like it doesn’t exist (or well I have seen a few examples actually). I mean if someone is half way over a road do you think the other lane is letting him in

- no way - “let him block all the traffic on the other side because here come I and I’m not waiting”. Also when it comes to driving thru villages for example to Chiang Rai is it really necessary to drive like an maniac when everyone knows that it is tractors, old men on motorbikes, children etc that are turning or crossing roads. And when someone tries cross the road -flashing lights and honking the horn, that’s the medicine.

A couple of years ago I was living in Koh Samui and I have never heard people say “Falang think they are king” (for some reason because you say what you think), so much as in Samui. But I can tell one thing, the one who think they ARE king on the road is the native themselves. Well I guess I follow Mr. Jones example “Life in the laugh lane” Thanks for a good newspaper.

Pontus W, Chiang Mai

Airline Compensation - who pays in the end?

The recent European Courts ruling for guaranteeing passengers compensation for flight delays or cancellations again brings to the table the discussion concerning consumer’s rights in the field of travel related legislation.

While the low cost airlines were quick off the mark to react angrily to the new ruling, which comes into force in February, claiming the compensation is out of line with ticket purchase prices.

Many observers in the tourism industry however , are asking is it ‘fair’ and does
the ruling have any implications on passenger safety and costs?

I guess at the heart of the issue is what is reasonable and fair in relation to a delayed or cancelled flight? Certainly, the industry well understands that acts of god, war, strikes, congestion and weather are all beyond the scope of responsibility of any individual airline and that compensation is not normally paid.

However, each airline will deal with individual cases on their merits and according to their own pre-set rules and regulations. Some will exceed the minimum required by law and others will follow strictly to the letter. First Class, Business Class and frequent flyers may well be dealt with under a separate set of rules and regulations.

If delays are down to the airline, such as overbooking or poor maintenance then I guess there is no argument where the blame lies. The new legislation sets the price for a passenger bumped off a flight at USD 725 per passenger. For flight delays of two to four hours airlines are required to serve snacks or full meals and delays over five hours entitles passengers to a refund and a hotel room if necessary. Ultimately, who will be paying these higher compensation charges? The airlines or the passengers?

In the hotel industry, we have, I believe, behaved reasonably and fairly in dealing with ‘out bookings’. A hotel which has guaranteed a reservation and is not able, for whatever reason, including acts of god, to provide the accommodation, that hotel has in my experience, accepted full financial responsibility to find alternative accommodation. Including paying any transfer costs to and from the hotel, with an option for the guest to return to the hotel the following day, usually with an upgrade to a suite or similar and profound apologies from the hotel.

Too much? Not really, particularly if the individual happens to be a frequent guest and you want them to remain loyal and return repeatedly.

In the European ruling, there is recognition of the fact that a business traveller may need to be compensated for the entire round trip journey in the event of a missed business meeting, negating the main reason for travelling.

Fair or not? Most of us would say fair. After all, as passengers we follow strictly the booking procedures and arrive at the airport at the designated time and place and generally do what we are told. We also face a financial penalty in the event of a change of date of travel, if travelling on a restricted ticket.

Will this lead to higher prices or heaven forbid yet more surcharges to the end users? My belief is - most definitely. The biggest question however is whether it will be widely accepted by the airlines. There will be intense lobbying by the European Airlines to oppose it and for the non European Airlines it will most likely be ignored.

As to safety - increased pressure to get mechanical objects flying on schedule, on time and in all weather conditions either means better attention to repair and maintenance or simply cutting corners. It is not for me to suggest what will happen, but I guess the more responsible airlines, if forced to accept the new ruling, will take an equally responsible attitude to safety. The increase cost of aircraft been serviced more frequently to avoid disruption and cancellations, will however be passed on to the end user.

Moreover, passenger cancellation insurance will likely be affected. If the airlines are made more accountable financially, will this lead to higher premiums or reduce pressure on individuals to purchase cover for potential mishaps?

Whatever happens if the new legislation does take effect it will have a number of repercussions and in my mind one of those is more expensive air travel.

Andrew J Wood, General Manager Chaophya Park Hotel and Resorts, Thailand.