Now that the peak of the high season is
over and things have settled down a bit we can all step back and see how
traffic is shaping up under more “normal” circumstances. Still pretty hectic
but not the gridlock we experienced over Loy Krathong and New Year.
However, herein lies the issue, yes things have settled down a bit but we
have Songkran coming up and then of course, next year when the same
thousands and thousands of cars will descend on Chiang Mai again. Truly, a
solution to the problem needs to be found before it happens again. We can’t
assume that next year will be better somehow unless, of course thousands of
cars get re-possessed and they are no longer on the road (and not really a
fate I would wish on the many hard working people who plunked down a
substantial portion of their savings for a car).
So, first things first. Chiang Mai needs a few traffic experts (real
experts) to come in and assess problem areas and determine how best to
direct traffic flow. I imagine such experts are not cheap and may even need
to be flown in. However, I am sure that somehow the budget can be found from
on high to face what is fast becoming a crisis here (heck they may even want
to then take them to Bangkok whose gridlock is once again becoming
legendary). Then we need the political will to apply the necessary
It may be painful; it may be as simple
as computer timed lights that are based on assessed traffic flow patterns.
Then a concerted effort to not only enforce traffic laws but to educate
drivers as to what those laws are and why they need to be followed must be
started. I realize that the traffic police are not the most popular of
people in Chiang Mai but really traffic patrol needs to be more than just
helmet checks. Helmet checks, which, by the way, are often done in places
guaranteed to back traffic up.
Not that I am opposed to requiring
people to wear helmets, in fact I think it’s a good idea. I suspect that a
large part of the government medical expenses are from people who don’t wear
helmets. But traffic enforcement has to be more than just helmets. It needs
to be about stopping for red lights, yielding when required, not allowing
people to block entrances to roads, not parking on the sidewalks, and
perhaps enforcing parking regulations so that the roads are not completely
blocked sometimes. Unpopular? Certainly, but absolutely necessary.
Finally, public transportation needs to be put in place and in such a way as
to ease traffic flow and make it easier for people to leave their cars at
home or park them somewhere and take the bus into town.
I can’t claim to know what all the solutions are for our traffic woes, I am
not traffic expert although I am becoming more expert at sitting in traffic!