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
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
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.