Pavements still a problem

Pavements still a problem

Among the many pain points of living in Bangkok, the struggle with poorly designed, shabbily made pavements must be ranked among the worst. Numerous complaints have been made in this regard.

Lawsuits have been pursued by people who were either injured from substandard walkways or believed the pavements were not properly designed to accommodate pedestrians.

The city's perennial sore point has found a way to resurface after former Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt posted a photo showing the messy Charoen Nakhon Road and its seemingly half-done sidewalks underneath the now finished Golden Line BTS in Klong San district.

In the post, Mr Chadchart -- who announced late last year that he intended to run for Bangkok governor -- said that although the Golden Line has been in operation since December last year, the road surface and pavements underneath have been left in a mess.

He pointed out that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) -- which was assigned by the cabinet to take care of the Golden Line project -- should do something about it.

He said tens of thousands of people rely on the pavements and have to endure their chaotic and potentially dangerous state every single day.

Instead of focusing its priorities on finishing the Golden Line BTS -- which mainly serves as a feeder line from BTS Silom station to Iconsiam shopping centre -- City Hall should pay attention to pedestrians as well, Mr Chadchart urged.

His post coincided with a few other social media stories showing the sad state of the city's pavements. One post revealed a gap besides the entrance to the MRT's Bang Pho station which is so narrow people can hardly squeeze by.

Another shows a woman who had to push her baby's pram onto a road full of traffic because the curb along Soi Aree -- where the photos were taken -- was full of electricity poles, signposts and other objects that made it barely walkable.

These shameful revelations and complaints are nothing new. Alas, they seem to have fallen on deaf ears. There is little hope that Bangkokians will see an upgrade to the city's infamously dysfunctional pavements anytime soon.

It's possible city administrators believe pavements are not their priority. It's true Bangkok pedestrians have to struggle with them everyday but it's not a do-or-die problem. People can still get by.

But the condition of a city's pavements can have far-reaching impacts on the health of the city and its people.

According to studies and news articles, one of the keys to the longevity of the Japanese -- the country enjoys the longest average life expectancy in the world of 83.7 years and the lowest rate of obesity of 3.7% among OECD countries -- is walking.

The average Japanese person takes about 6,500 steps a day. The country has a strong walking culture which administrators encourage. That is why miles of walking routes can be found in many prefectures. Most Japanese cities are also designed to be walkable.

It's undeniable that Bangkok suffers from a myriad of problems, many of them are probably more pressing and urgent than sub-standard pavements.

But this pain point which pedestrians have to endure every single day has been allowed to go unaddressed for too long. If the BMA starts working on a walkable Bangkok now, a healthier and more attractive capital is within reach.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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