TRAVELING in Bangkok and beyond has become riskier during the past few years to such an extent that Thais and foreigners alike must exercise the utmost caution in order to avoid visiting hospitals or to live longer.
How dangerous? According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) survey, lack of key safety standards and poor enforcement of laws gave Thailand the second-highest road fatality rate in the world.
Thailand has no policies to separate motorists from pedestrians and cyclists. That is to keep motorcycles off sidewalks used by pedestrians.
It is obvious that nowadays motorcycles can go anywhere, do anything they like without having to care about safety of others and actually their own and their pillion’s safety too.
A few cases witnessed by myself. I came down from a flyover in order to walk to Big C Department Store in Ladprao only to be frightened by a motorcycle taxi carrying a passenger who whisked past at close range on a footpath.
The other day many people shared a clip of a motorcycle rider and his girlfriend arguing with a few female college students on a footpath. Part of the conversation which no one expected to hear was what was wrong with him riding his motorbike on the footpath. “Did I hurt anyone,” he asked. That’s the mentality of many motorcycle riders these days.
Another example is when I was driving through a tunnel on Rajadapisek Road, where motorcycles are not allowed, a motorcycle sped past me in the tunnel but a few seconds later I saw him making a dangerous U-turn and drive back as he saw a traffic policeman at the end the tunnel!
There was a clip of a motorcycle driving into a tunnel on the opposite direction and crashing to death with a passenger car as it’s a bending tunnel and the car driver could not see the approaching motorcycle which was not supposed to drive down there.
Just last week, while driving on a two-lane highway to Petchabun Province, negotiating a curb on the right lane, to my astonishment a motorcycle came from nowhere on the opposite direction but this time on the right lane and not the usual left lane. That’s insane.
Jumping traffic lights is pretty normal practice of motorcycles and often cars too. So car drivers should not hurry if they are the first to cross the intersection when traffic lights turn green.
Lately, motorcyclists have gathered to demand their rights to use certain bridges, tunnels and flyovers, now prohibited for theirs and others’ safety. Their representatives were then invited to debate their demand with the police and traffic engineer on TV because they said their rights should not be violated.
After a long debate one of the motorcyclist representatives insisted that if cars can use those facilities, they should be treated fairly by having the right to use such facilities as well. The traffic engineer then politely said this was probably possible but could he make sure that all motorcyclists get off sidewalks used by pedestrians. Motorcyclists riding on sidewalks are clearly violating the rights of pedestrians, the majority of the people, as well.
No answer from the motorcyclist representative and the TV host shortly after decided to end the session without any conclusive solution.
TOP: Bangkok’s motorcyclists have been demanding certain rights. Photo: Joan Campderrós-i-Canas (CC-BY-2.0)
INSET: Sunday evening traffic at Siam Square area. Photo: Mark Fischer (CC-BY-SA-2.0)
By Kowit Sanandang