For many, a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Bangkok would be a virtual utopia. Our collective carbon footprints would fall and quality of life would likely rise, if safety could be ensured.
One could well imagine closed-off streets on some days of the week that would be safe for bikes, walkers and joggers.
Bicycle lanes might work, if the police could keep cars and motorcycles out of them, but if bicycles started using sidewalks, particularly during the night without lights as one sometimes sees on Sukhumvit Road, things might get even worse for pedestrians.
Motorcycles can be found speeding dangerously down many city sidewalks nowadays, detouring around the heavy traffic on the street.
This alone is enough to deter some from walking very far on sidewalks, choosing the safety of their car or a taxi instead.
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Bikes pushed as answer to traffic woes by Apinya Wipatayotin
All it takes is some strong political will and growing environmental awareness to change Bangkok from a city of traffic nightmares to a bicycle-friendly capital, a veteran cycling campaigner says.
Koy Thomson, a former chief executive of the influential London Cycling Campaign (LCC), said Bangkok had great potential for bicycle lanes because city roads are quite wide and distances between significant places are not too great.
"The important thing is that we need to change people's way of thinking," Mr Thomson told a public forum yesterday held by the Green World Foundation in Bangkok. "Roads are public places which should not be reserved for cars only. They should be designed for other purposes, including for bicycles."
An active cycling network to campaign for change and the political will from authorities were the other key factors that would help Bangkok join the global trend towards bicycle-friendly cities, he said.
Mr Thomson said Bangkok could learn from London's experience in promoting bicycle riding. Campaigners in London, where traffic congestion has worsened with the increase in population, have spent more than 30 years creating public awareness about cycling.
The population of London, now about 7.5 million, was expected to grow by 800,000 by 2025, which means that the traffic will become worse than ever, Mr Thomson said.
"Politicians understand that bad traffic will affect their popularity and they have to do something to solve the problem - so they came up with the idea of promoting the use of bicycles," he said.
The LCC found there were 400,000 daily cycling trips in London in 2007. The number is expected to increase to 900,000 in 2012 and 1.7 million in 2025.
Cycling accounted for about 2% of all journeys in London in 2006, and the LCC projects that this will rise to 5% by 2025.
Mr Thomson said Bangkok's bike riders should form a network to pressure authorities to support cycling as an alternative means of transport.
Sira Leepipatnavit, a cycling campaigner with the Green World Foundation, said the foundation had been working with partners to draft Bangkok's first cycling map.
Input from cyclists was greatly needed to make the map complete, he said.
The foundation is also looking for volunteers to test recommended routes to see whether they are safe and convenient.
Mr Sira practises what he preaches by riding each day from his home in Tha Phra to his office in Tha Tian. The trip takes about 25 minutes, compared with about 40 minutes on the bus.
(Source: Bangkok Post, ENVIRONMENT, Bikes pushed as answer to traffic woes, 20/12/2010, Apinya Wipatayotin, link)
pedestrian - people who use walking as a form of transportation to get from one place to another place คนเดินถนน
utopia - an imaginary ideal and perfect society or state (See Wikipedia)
virtual - almost the same as the thing mentioned
virtual utopia - almost the same as a utopia
collective - for a group of people taken as a whole
carbon footprint - "the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person" as measured by the goods and services they consume (See Wikipedia)
quality of life - the general well-being of individuals and societies, not based entirely on income, "instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment, but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging" (See Wikipedia)
detour - to go around something that is blocking your path (example: cars could not use the road while it was being repaired, so they had to take a detour route)
deter - take some action to make people not want to do something
traffic - the number traveling to a place during a period of time (people, aircraft, ships, trains, cars, trucks, etc.) ความหนาแน่นของจำนวนคน หรือยานพาหนะในช่วงเวลาใดช่วงเวลาหนึ่ง
woes - great problems or troubles ความเสียใจ, ความทุกข์ร้อน
political will - the energy and determination to achieve political goals
awareness - the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
nightmares - 1. bad dreams, 2. when something bad happens to you
traffic nightmares - very bad traffic situations, so many cars that traffic is not moving at all and you have to wait a very long time to go anywhere
capital - the city in a country where headquarters for the central government is located
veteran - a person who has a lot of experience in a particular area or activity ผู้อาวุโส
campaigner - a person who takes part in organized activities which are intended to change something in society ผู้ต่อสู้,ผู้รณรงค์,ผู้โฆษณาเผยแพร่
chief executive - the highest level managers in a company
influential - can control events because they are powerful ที่มีอิทธิพลต่อ
London Cycling Campaign (LCC) - "an independent membership charity lobbying for better conditions for cyclists in London. Its vision is to make London 'a world-class cycling city'. It is the largest urban cycling organisation in the world, with 11,000 members" (See Wikipedia and website)
influential - have power to make government make decisions that benefit them
potential - the possibility of success ที่มีศักยภาพ ที่เป็นไปได้
bicycle lanes - a special small protected area running along the side of the street in which only bicycles can ride
significant - important ที่สำคัญยิ่ง
forum - a place where people can express their ideas and opinions and engage in debate over issues การประชุมแสดงความคิดเห็น
public forum - a place (usually on the internet nowadays) where everyone can come to and express their opinion on an issue
reserved - of people who do not often talk about or show their feelings or thoughts ซึ่งสงวนท่าที, ไว้ตัว
active - working, operating, doing its job
network - a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
cycling network - a group of cyclists who work together to improve conditions for bicycling
campaign - a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim การรณรงค์
authorities - government officials, the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
key - important คนสำคัญ
factors - all the things that affect a situation or event ปัจจัย
trend - a gradual change or development that produces a particular result ทิศทาง แนวโน้ม
congestion - a situation in which a place is crowded with people or vehicles แน่นขนัดไปด้วยรถหรือคน
traffic congestion - when the road is crowded with cars, trucks buses and other vehicles
population - all the animals or plants of a particular type or group who live in one country, area or place กลุ่มพืชและสัตว์ที่อาศัยอยู่ในบริเวณหนึ่ง
spent - used ที่ใช้ไป
public awareness - when the people in the country (citizens) know about the issue (and the different arguments for and against)
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
popularity - widespread acceptance, when large numbers of people like something ความเป็นที่นิยม, ความเป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
pressure - trying to force someone to do something
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
alternative - another choice, something different ตัวเลือก / ทางเลือก
transport - to move people or things from one place to another ขนส่ง
foundation - an organisation that provides money for things such as medical research or for a charity มูลนิธิ
partners - companies or organizations working together on a project
draft - not in a final form and likely to be changed ร่า
input - opinions from people using a system given to people designing the system or making decisions about the system
volunteers - people working without (for a good cause, helping people)
convenient - an easy way to do something
practises what he preaches - actually do what you say everyone should be doing (so that you do not contradict your self)