Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bangkok (Sidewalk) Dangerous

Somebody should probably kick me in the shins just for using that title.  I've been told the original version of the movie (Thai made) is excellent, but I haven't seen it, so I can't comment authoritatively.  I have seen the recent Nicolas Cage version, and I can fully attest to it being a steaming pile of cinematic doo-doo.  But I digress...

Walking on Bangkok's sidewalks can be hazardous to one's health.  They are often uneven with some interesting choices for paving options.  Why on earth would you pave a sidewalk with blocks that have 3/4 inch high ridges running parallel to the walking direction?  Do you honesly want people to sprain their ankles?  There are also frequently chunks missing from the sections that are designed to allow access to the underground utilities (and by "underground utilities" I usually mean "the sewers" although sometimes there are phone lines down there, according to the imprint on the concrete covers that are all busted up).  At best you scuff a shoe, maybe twist an ankle, but you could potentially lose a small child to some of the gaps in the sidewalk here.  Needless to say, Bangkok is not very wheelchair-friendly.  For a more fulsome treatment of the joys of sidewalk travel in Bangkok, see this article.

Today's rant, however, comes courtesy of those numerous motorcycle operators in general who feel the compelling need to drive on the sidewalk, but specifically for the guy--driving against the flow of traffic no less--who barked at me today because I didn't move out of the way fast enough while I was walking to get my lunch.  These are the same folks who snake their way in and around traffic with shockingly little regard for their safety or the safety of other drivers on the road (see this post from another blogger for an excellent take on motorcycles in Thailand).  I find it shocking that, given how well motorcyclists here often utilize the open spaces on the road, they still feel the need to endanger pedestrians on the sidewalk.

(That's one of the nicest sidewalks I've ever seeen here)

It's a side-WALK, not a side-SPACE-FOR-MOTORCYLCES.  Even in Thai the two most common words for sidewalk (ทางเดิน and ทางเท้า) translate to "walking path" or "foot path."  Let me check that again real quick...nope, don't see anything in either of those words that says "motorcycles."  Am I missing something here?

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