Monday, 1 March 2010

Living in Thailand - Bicycling in Bangkok

Although many people may feel that bicycling in Bangkok is not a tenable proposition, it can be done with relative safety and offers much convenience for many excursions that would be time-consuming and exhausting if done by foot.

Bangkok has made a weak attempt at supporting bicycles by sporadically marking sidewalk lanes for bikes, allowing bicycles on the MRT (subway), the BTS (SkyTrain), and riverboats. However, the MRT and riverboats require that the bicycle be of the foldable type and be folded to be allowed aboard. Also, there is a long elevated walkway that links the north end of Lumpini Park with Sukumvit Soi 10 which provides a convenient, safe and fast transit between Lumpini Park and the lower Sukumvit area.

Right of Way

The general right of way rule in Thailand is that the largest/heaviest vehicle has the right of way; pedestrians have the lowest. In short, "if it's bigger than you, it will kill you unless you get out of its way". My rule is to give right of way to all vehicles and pedestrians. This prevents unwanted confrontations with both vehicles and pedestrians. This applies especially to sidewalks, since many sidewalks are marked with a bicycle lane.

Although many sidewalks are marked with about a 1 meter wide bike lane, the use of the lanes by bikes is so light that it is often cluttered with mobile vendors and pedestrians.

Often, in tourist areas especially, the sidewalks have vendors and pedestrians so it is difficult to continue riding safely, so the bicycle should be walked or the sidewalk abandoned for the street.

The Bicycle Bell

It is often important to let a pedestrian know that you are approaching from behind by using the bell as far away as possible so that they have time to recognize it and act accordingly... if they hear it, that is.

Sidewalks or Street?

Because of the crowded or poor conditions of many sidewalks, it is often necessary to alternate between the sidewalk and street. This is especially true when trying to make the best time in a trade-off with safety. Some street traffic conditions are potentially unsafe due to high-speed traffic and the fact that dedicated bike lanes in Bangkok are rare. The buses are the biggest offenders with their seemingly oblivious attitude and frequent stops. From both safety and rapid transit perspectives, gridlocked traffic is the best for a bicycle on the street.


These are probably the most dangerous part of bicycling. The advantage the cyclist has, is that he or she can decide to cross an intersection as either a pedestrian or a vehicle depending on the situation.

Where to Buy Bicycles in Bangkok


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