In a previous issue of the Chiang Mai
Mail we reported that Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya was pushing the
implementation and enforcement of bicycle lanes in a bid to reduce traffic
and pollution and promote healthy lifestyles among locals. This is certainly
an admirable suggestion and one that has seen some implementation already by
the bicycle lanes that can be seen in a few areas around the city.
However, one of the drawbacks that was pointed out is the lack of
enforcement on parking and driving in these bicycle lanes. Many motorbike
drivers think the lanes are there for them to drive down and everyone thinks
they are great parking spaces. In a city short on parking spaces, that
sentiment is thoroughly understandable on the part of drivers but makes it
impossible for bicycle riders to actually use their designated lanes.
The chief of traffic police even said that enforcement needed to be stepped
up for bicycle lanes to be practical in the city. What they both forgot to
mention is perhaps the even more vital education of current and potential
drivers as to bicycle lanes and of being aware of cyclists on the road. Too
often I have seen drivers cut in front of cyclists or get so close to them
that one small wobble on the part of the cyclist would surely put him or her
in danger. This is also true for both motorcycle drivers and car drivers and
it belies a lack of consideration for others on the road and an
unwillingness to share the road.
Before Chiang Mai can become a truly cycle friendly city this needs to be
addressed, in fact a really good driver’s education course for all students
in the Mathayom level would not go amiss, teaching road safety, laws and
consideration at an early age is the best way to make sure it that these
issues are tackled.