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Thailand - Cycling

Generally, as a form of transport, cycling is not the best option in Thailand, particularly in busy areas such as Bangkok. The cities are so busy with traffic that it is dangerous to take a bicycle onto the road. The volume of traffic also means that there is a great deal of pollution in the city and cyclists would be riding right through, further endangering their own health. There are cycle routes in some of the parks for those who want to cycle to keep fit but there are no dedicated cycle paths along the roads. In Bangkok a few years ago there were lines painted on some pavements in the hope of creating cycle paths but motorbike taxis took these over and it quickly became far too dangerous.

There are no regulations for cyclist in Thailand, although it is common sense to be as careful as possible and wear a safety helmet. Some of the dangers with cyclists in Thailand are connected to the roadworthiness of their bicycle and many people with locally made bikes often have lights that are not working and brakes that are not in the best condition. It is also important to watch out for those cyclists which take passengers with them, as they are not steady and can cause an accident.

Drivers in Bangkok are not the most patient with cyclists. They will often beep their horns at you, put their lights on full beam to blind you, cut in front of you dangerously close and it has also been known for them to throw things at cyclists. If a car is in an accident with a cyclist or near a cyclist when one occurs it is not uncommon for the cyclist to be blamed.

However, Bangkok has potential as a cyclist’s city. The city is mainly flat so there are no inclines to negotiate in the heat and the grid-style design of the city means that it is fairly easy to find your way around.

In recent years Bangkok also attempted to have a free bike system similar to those which have proved to be very popular in some European cities. However, this system did not allow the bikes to be used on various routes but only on a pre-approved route and some of this was along a busy road. In addition, the bikes that were used were only suitable for the petite Thai person and many foreigners found that they were too tall to ride them comfortably. After a while the route – marked out on the roads – became too dangerous to use as taxis were using it for parking and motorbikes were using it to make their way through the traffic. The bike stations are all now marked ‘closed for renovation’ and it is unclear if the scheme will be started again.

However, for those in smaller towns or quieter parts of the city, cycling is as good a travel option as any. If you have a route that will take you along some of the smaller lanes then you should be able to avoid much of the dangerous traffic which is continual in the city centre.

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