More pedestrians means less cars, less pollution, more healthy people, but crowds of vendors and motorcycles makes sidewalks unwalkable.
COMMENTARY: BMS should liberate our footpaths by Saritdet Marukatat
Pavement: A flat part at the side of a road for people to walk on (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary).
Sidewalk: A walk or raised path along the side of a road for pedestrians (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).
It does not matter whether it's British or American lexicon. Both have a consensus on the definition of the footpath. It's definitely and unarguably a place exclusively reserved for people to walk. The real function of the sidewalk is respected in cities like New York, Tokyo, London and Singapore. Once upon a time - but no longer, it seems - it was also respected here in Bangkok.
The pavements in the City of Angels used to be heaven for pedestrians. Increasingly, that is something of the past.
And if the problem goes unaddressed, Bangkok folk wanting to move about the streets on foot without the presence of vendors annoying them, might have no choice but to use the Super Skywalk.
What really happens to this city under the people who run it, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
The BMS missed the point when it said it wanted to use the elevated walkway project to restore the enjoyment of walking for pedestrians. But the BMS has no need to use the public purse of around 15 billion baht to launch a project as ambitious as this if it really wants to encourage more people to walk. It can tackle the problem at the root cause.
The problem with cluttered sidewalks in the capital began when the BMS and government in the old days allowed hawkers to temporarily use the pavements to sell their products. There was nothing wrong with that, as this generosity could help poor vendors make ends meet. One condition was they could not permanently occupy the area as if it was their own property.
Of course, what we see today shows that that condition has never been respected, and no legal action taken to enforce it. The pavements are permanently taken by vendors, many of them wealthy ones but pretending to be poor. The pavements in prime areas like Silom have been occupied by these people and the BMS should not underestimate their wealth.
Many drive to work; in many cases someone drops them off to work and picks them up for home. Their physical occupation of the pavements forces pedestrians to walk on the road, leaving the area that is actually set aside for them as space for street vendors.
Among the ugliest scenes are the areas in Bang Kapi and near Ramkhamhaeng University. People risk their own safety when they are forced to step down from the sidewalk to walk on the streets.
Who should be blamed for letting this problem come this far? The BMS is not the only agency responsible, though it is undoubtedly the agency closest to the problem. Another agency directly involved is the police.
All pavements across the country are under the direct supervision of police, according to the Land Transport Act. In Bangkok, the Metropolitan Police Bureau is in charge. The BMS has to get permission from city police to allow street vendors to use them. The BMS usually forwards the request to police every two years. In exchange for gaining permission, City Hall has to make sure that its staff keep sidewalks clean and that pedestrians will be not disturbed. That's the promise; the reality is what everybody sees.
Under the law, a space of one metre has to be set aside as a walkway for pedestrians, and vendors are allowed to set up stalls only on one side of the pavement. Can anybody find any pavement on Bangkok streets which follow this rule? Obviously, the answer is none.
The police should have the courage to withhold permission from the BMS for use of pavement space if city officials cannot regulate the way vendors use this public space. This would ensure that pavements are returned to their rightful owners, the pedestrains.
Now, according to most Bangkok pedestrians, a pavement in Bangkok is merely part of the side of a road for vendors to use and people to avoid.
Saritdet Marukatat is Editorial Pages Editor, Bangkok Post.
(Source: Bangkok Post, Opinion, COMMENTARY, BMS should liberate our footpaths, 7/03/2011, Saritdet Marukatat, link)
pedestrian - a person travelling to a place by foot, a person walking to a place (See Wikipedia)
sidewalk - a raised path along the side of a road or street for people to walk along and avoid cars and motorcycles (See Wikipedia)
footpath - same meaning as "sidewalk"
pavement - same meaning as "sidewalk"
skyway - a place for pedestrians to walk located above the ground (See Wikipedia and also pedway)
Super Skywalk - the name given to the planned skyway for pedestrians stretching across Bangkok
elevated walkway - same meaning as "skyway"
liberate X from Y - make X free of Y, remove Y from X
pedestrians - people who are walking, especially in an area where vehicles go คนเดินถนน
It does not matter... - this makes no difference to what I am saying, this is irrelevant, not relevant ไม่เกี่ยวข้อง
lexicon - a dictionary or list of words and phrases
consensus - a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people ความคิดเห็นของคนส่วนใหญ่
unarguably - a fact, a truth (that you can't argue about whether it is true or not)
reserve - when use is limited to one person or group during a period (example: this table was reserved yesterday, we have other tables in the restaurant available)
X exclusively reserved for Y - only person or group or activity Y can use X
function - one task or activity that something does บทบาท
respect a law, respect a rule, respect a function - follow the rule, law or definition and do not break it
address a problem - take care and deal with a problem, try to solve the problem
unaddressed - (of a problem) not taken care of
unaddressed problem - problem that is not taken care of (dealt with, solved)
presence - when someone or something is in a place การอยู่ในสถานที่หนึ่ง (ของบุคคล)
folk - people
Bangkok folk - people who live in Bangkok
vendors - sellers พ่อค้า people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street from a small stall or cart, พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
choice - of very good quality หัวกะทิ, ชั้นหนึ่ง, ดีที่สุด
have no choice but to Y - must do Y
missed the point - did not understand (or address) the real problem
restore - make something exist again, after it has disappeared ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
public purse - government money (collected from taxes and fees)
launch - to start something เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ
ambitious - goals are very high and difficult to achieve (perhaps even too high to be achieved), difficult and needing a lot of effort to succeed ทะเยอทยาน
encourage - cause someone to gain enthusiasm, motivation, and energy in what they are doing, to make someone more likely to do or continue doing something ปลุกใจ
tackle problem - to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with a problem จัดการ, แก้ปัญหา
cluttered - crowded with many things, disorganized, messy (example: the child's room was cluttered with so many toys that it was difficult to walk
capital - the main center for government in a country
hawker - a person who sells things on the street
temporarily - only for a limited time; not permanent ชั่วคราว
generosity - kindness, especially in giving things to people ความกรุณา
make ends meet - earn enough money to buy food, clothing and living place for family
condition - something that must be agreed to before you do something, must be done before another thing can happen เงื่อนไข
permanently - for all time in the future อย่างเป็นการถาวร
occupy - to fill, exist in, or use a place or period of time ครอง, to work or live on a piece of land อาศัยอยู่ใน, ครอบครอง
property - land or space
take legal action - use the law to control some activity or punish people who have broken the law
enforce - to make sure laws are obeyed
wealthy - having a large amount of money, land, and other valuable things ที่มั่งคั่ง ร่ำรวย
prime - main or most important ที่สำคัญที่สุด of the best quality ที่ดีที่สุด
prime areas - the most important areas of a city, with high rents and property value
wealth - how much money and assets a person or country owns
underestimate - believe that a value is less than it really is
underestimate wealth - think that a person has no money or wealth (but they do)
drop off - when a person lets you out of the car (after driving you to a place that you want to go to)
pick up - when a person drives their car to where you are (and you get in their car and they deliver you to some place)
physical - when a person is there with their body (and in this case, food cart or cart used to sell things)
occupation - the act of going into a place and taking control away from the people or government there เข้ายึด เข้าครอบครอง
risk - the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความเสี่ยง
undoubtedly - certainly อย่างไม่น่าสงสัย
supervise (verb) - supervise activity, manage activity, do everything necessary to make activity go successfully: plan, check/monitor, guide people involved in activity
supervision - the process of making sure that something is being done properly การควบคุมดูแล การตรวจตรา
direct supervision - supervise an activity yourself
indirect supervision - tell or assign another different person or organization to supervise the activity
in charge - in control and managing an activity or situation
permission - allowing someone to do something การอนุญาต,การอนุมัติ,การยินยอม
staff - workers, employees พนักงาน
disturbed - upset and worried
reality - actually happening ความเป็นจริง
stalls - large tables or small shops with an open front from which goods are sold in a public place แผงขายของ
withhold - to deliberately not give something to someone
withhold permission - do not give someone permission to do some activity (but usually do give permission)
regulate - to control an activity officially by using rules ควบคุม
ensure - to make sure something happens or is done ให้ความมั่นใจ
rightful owners - the people who really own something
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