Activists call on govt to safeguard cyclists

Activists call on govt to safeguard cyclists

Road safety campaigners called on the government to amend laws to protect cyclists yesterday, claiming the state has not made a serious effort to ensure their well being. 

At least four measures should be added to the Land Traffic Act, which has been enforced since 1979, said Phrommin Kanthiya, director of the accident reduction network under the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

Action must be taken to prevent the recurrence of Saturday's tragedy in which Chilean cyclist, Juan Francisco Guillermo, 47, was killed, he said.

Guillermo, together with his wife and two-year-old son, were hit by a truck in Nakhon Ratchasima. He was nearing the end of a five-year round-the-world trip. 

"First of all, large vehicles must respect the rights of smaller vehicles," Mr Phrommin said.

To ensure all road users respect this principle, the law should impose harsher penalties on violators, he said.

The other three measures include more bike lanes, safety requirements for bicycle usage and better compensation for cyclists injured in accidents, he added.

"All sides must jointly ensure better measures," he said, calling on the Land Transport Department, the Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Royal Thai Police Office to come up with more effective legal solutions.

Saturday's tragedy is not the first fatal accident involving foreign cyclists on round-the-world trips.

In 2013, British couple Peter Root and Mary Thompson, both 34, were struck and killed by a pickup truck in Chachoengsao province.

But over the past two years, state agencies have not taken cyclists' safety seriously, said Mr Phrommin, saying the deaths have dealt a blow to Thailand's image.

Such passive action is to blame for making the country notorious for unsafe road travel, he said.

Thailand has the third-highest number of road accidents worldwide.

This fact does not fit with the state's current policy to encourage more people to use bicycles, Mr Phrommin said.

Nakhon Ratchasima police chief Pol Maj Gen Thakun Natthisi said he will order police in the province to drive in front of cyclists, especially foreigners on round-the-world trips, to ensure their safety.

"Mitraphap Road is very long and has been the site of many accidents," he said.

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