Making Bangkok cycle-friendly

Making Bangkok cycle-friendly
KMITL students offer models to help reduce carbonemissions in Bangkok.

King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) yesterday unveiled the models of three cycling facilities that could support Bangkok's bid to become a bicycle-friendly city and reduce carbon emissions.

The unveiling of the models preceded World Environment Day today. If these models are constructed, Bangkok bicyclists would benefit greatly.

Cycling has been promoted as a solution to not just Bangkok's traffic nightmare but also its serious pollution problem.

"If we travel around on bicycles, we can cut down air pollution," Dr Prapatpong Uppala of KMITL's faculty of architecture said yesterday.

He said cycling to work for a stretch of 6.5 kilometres a day could reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 900 kilograms a year.

It is estimated that there are now more than 2 million cyclists in Thailand, he said. Of that number, about 150,000 live in Bangkok and its adjacent provinces. Another 260,000 people cycle for leisure, he said. "Cycling is also good to the environment," Prapatpong said.

He told a news conference yesterday that Bangkok was not yet friendly to cyclists, but he hoped the three cycling facilities designed by KMITL students could change that.

The models are for the Suvarnabhumi Bicycle Learning Centre for Bicyclists, the Bangkok Bicyclist Centre, and the Thailand Velodrome.

Jirawat Rungkitiyothin, a fifth-year student at the KMITL faculty of architecture, said his Suvarnabhumi Bicycle Learning Centre would aim to encourage the use of bicycles in everyday life.

"This centre will even include a 'bike town' where participants can find out what may happen to cyclists on roads," he said.

Pakornpat Charoenphan, who designed the Bangkok Bicyclist Centre, said his idea was to build a facility under a park-and-ride, urban-space theme.

"I expect this centre to offer vertical parking space for up to 2,720 bicycles, and it should sit near other main transport systems like the BTS and subway," he said. "My target location is a plot near the Chatuchak Weekend Market."

Issares Suwannatwipa, the student who came up with the Thailand Velodrome, said there were cycling tracks at four stadiums in Thailand but none met the standards laid down by Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for sports cycling.

"So I think we will need to build one" that meets the standards, he added.

Prapatpong said it would take time for Bangkok to become a bicycle-friendly city and efforts could start with a study on the problems related to bicycle use and the needs of cyclists. "The next step is to develop a master plan based on the study, and engage all parties before, during and after the implementation" to follow it, he said.

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