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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Riding on pavements

Sidewalks, or pavements as the British call them, are a rather rare piece of real estate here in Chiang Mai. There are stretches of roads with none at all. There are stretches of road where the pavements are parking spaces for both motorcycles and cars. Finally, when there are pavements and there are no cars or motorcycles they are filled with signs, trees, chunks of concrete and broken bricks. Generally, Chiang Mai pavements are not conducive to pedestrians much less motorcyclists.

Bangkok recently instituted a ban on driving on pavements, frankly a major problem in the city as the motorcycle taxi drivers frequently use them as an alternative to the roads. Chiang Mai, not so much. There really aren’t great stretches of pavements to drive on much less walk on.

However, there are a few traffic campaigns the police could consider implementing, driving down the wrong side of the road being one of them. This occurs on a regular basis on Mahidol Road coming from town towards the airport, occasionally on Nimmanhaemin and a few other places. Then add in those motorcycles that drive in the lane of oncoming traffic to reach the intersection, frequently blocking the cars that are coming. This is very dangerous and something traffic police really need to start targeting.

Other major issues that traffic police could target are the blocking of intersections by cars; this behavior causes traffic blockages as vehicles try to turn right into roads that are blocked by people who don’t pay attention.

The famed crackdown on running red lights and blocking of pedestrian walkways has dissipated and while in some intersections it seems to still be respected, in most it does not. As a pedestrian forced out into the road, it is certainly inconvenient but the vehicles that run the red lights put lives at risk every single time.

Traffic laws and traffic courtesy are an ongoing issue here in Chiang Mai and one that needs more than just “crackdowns” but constant, regular enforcement. Drivers will obey laws if they know that those laws are enforced every single day at all times.

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Riding on pavements