Plenty of cycling in 2016
The return of the track near Suvarnabhumi airport, renamed the Sky Lane, spells a happy and healthy new year for many
After six months or so of closure, the revamped cycling track around Suvarnabhumi International Airport was officially reopened last Saturday. Renamed the "Sky Lane", this collaboration between the Airport of Thailand (AOT) and Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) has been greatly welcomed by Bangkok's cycling community. The return of this bike track to the short list of places where residents of the capital can train or enjoy leisurely rides without the risk of becoming roadkill is definitely one of this year's best bit of good news.
Unlike the old version, which was popularly called sanam khieo (Green Track) because of the colour of its surface, the 23km-long Sky Lane has been repaved with bright blue-tainted asphalt that reduces rolling resistance, thus allowing cyclists to go faster. The speed limit is 40kph. Rider traffic now flows in a counter-clockwise direction.
Facilities have been improved and added. Along the course, four rest areas, each complete with separate toilets for men and women, have been provided. A solar-powered lighting system, once the installation is completed, will make it possible for cyclists to ride after night falls.
The most important thing riders who have not yet visited the Sky Lane must know is that, apart from a bike and a cycling helmet, you must also have the "Snap" bracelet which uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to let you enter and exit the track. It is said that in the future Snap will also serve as an e-wallet so riders can buy drinks and snacks, soon to be available in the service area, without having to carry money.
Snap can be conveniently obtained at the entrance, free of charge. Thais holding "smart" ID cards can get the bracelets from automatic machines, while those with older versions and foreigners with passports can just go the registration area to get one.
Co-ordinates: 13°42'39.17" N 100°46'32.36" E
Opening hours: Currently from 6am to 6pm, daily. Will be extended to 10pm, once the lighting is all set.
If the Sky Lane is too far from your home, the following are some of the places in Bangkok you can cycle without encountering danger from vehicles.
This beautiful public park in the heart of the city, a few minutes' walk from Asoke BTS station and Queen Sirikit National Convention Center MRT station, has separate lanes for cyclists and joggers. The well-paved track, which runs around a lake, is about 2km long. Rental bikes are available.
Co-ordinates: 13°43'32.73" N 100°33'27.98" E
Opening hours: Daily, 4.30am-9pm
Bung Makham Thet
This public park, officially named Wari Phirom Park, in Soi Pracha Ruamchai 47, Min Buri, boasts a 4.6km cycle lane circling two connecting lakes, Bung Makham Thet and Bung Sakae Ngam Sam Duen. A standard BMX racing track, the first in Bangkok, is being built here, and should be completed soon. Rental bikes are available.
Co-ordinates: 13°50'52.78" N 100°46'32.54" E
Opening hours: Daily, 6am-6pm
Peppermint Bike Park
This privately run park has both a lane and elevated wooden bridge with different types of turns and rollers, plus a drop-off, for riders to exercise and practice their skills. The park is located in Soi Yothin Phattana 3. Rental bikes and helmets are available.
Co-ordinates: 13°49'01.85" N 100°37'45.76" E
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, 4pm-10pm Saturday and Sunday, 7am-10 pm
Fee: 200 baht
Bung Rapnam Nong Bon
Located in Soi 43 off Chalerm Phrakiat Road, near the famous Rama 9 Park, this park surrounding an S-shaped lake serves as a good place for leisurely riding. The cycle route is 2km long.
Co-ordinates: 13°41'29.52" N 100°39'49.89" E
Opening hours: Daily, 6am-6.30pm
This 3.5km mountain bike single track, located within the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bang Khen, is the only one of its kind in Bangkok. It's a fun trail with technical sections. The tree cover allows bikers to enjoy riding without getting burnt by the sun.
Co-ordinates: 13°51'21.13" N 100°35'44.61" E
Opening hours: Daily, 9am-6pm
Fee: 100 baht
Situated right on the edge of Bangkok's western boundary, this Buddhist park technically belongs to Nakhon Pathom. Still, it's convenient to get to for Bangkokians living in that part of the city. Bikes can be ridden along the park roads and a short single track in the northern part of the park.
Co-ordinates: 13°47'00.17" N 100°19'05.33"
Opening hours: Daily, 5am-7pm
Apart from those mentioned, there are also other places such as the BMX park at Hua Mak Stadium, Rodfai Park in Chatuchak and the bike lane underneath the Si Rat Expressway (the section between Ngam Wong Wan and Chaeng Wattana roads).
No matter where you ride, keep in mind that it is important to respect the rules and rights of others.
Pongpet Mekloy is the Bangkok Post's travel editor and a mountain bike freak.
Peppermint Park Photo: NAPHONGTHAWAT HIRANWAN