11 July 2024

There are 22.55 square kilometres of pavement in Bangkok, just 1.44% of the city’s whole area. Despite the small fraction of space they occupy, the footpaths of Bangkok are infamous for their state of disrepair.

For Choompol, the disrepair and obstacles, such as utility poles and billboards, are considered problems, but what he thinks is the most concerning are the pavements in most of the alleys or side streets in Bangkok.

He said, “Many alleys in Bangkok have the same problems. For example, in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 53, the level of pavement is the same as the road surface and, somehow, the pavement blends into the street, which reduces the safety of pedestrians. Besides pedestrians who are walking on the pavement, we have to beware of motorcycles that sometimes drive on the pavement, honk at us and scrape against us. The pavement should be a safe area for pedestrians.”

Besides the pavement’s level and motorcycle problems, street vendors are also taking up a lot of space on Bangkok’s sidewalks, while a lot of cars parked at a bus stop are very dangerous for pedestrians, in his experience.

He said, “Street vendors usually set up on the pavement and sometimes we have to walk on the road to get through. Even at the bus stop, I have to wait for the bus on the road. Can you imagine that? Waiting for the bus on the road carries risk too. Because of law enforcement, we are seeing fewer (street vendors). Then there are people who come out and say street vending is a part of the Thai lifestyle. I don’t think that’s right. I think this is about taking advantage of others.”

Even if you consider zebra crossings to be part of the pavement, as pedestrians need to use them to cross the road, pedestrians must always be very cautious when using them.

For Choompol, as the bus stops are part of the pavement, seats should be provided and a roof for people waiting for a bus under the sun or in the rain.

Not to mention some greenery, which could help with the hot and humid weather.

He added, “Trees are necessary as, sometimes, it’s sunny and very hot. Some areas don’t have any trees and that’s very hot for pedestrians who are waiting for the bus and walking on the overpasses. Thai people are diverse. We have a lot of people who have their own cars, a lot of people who don’t and we have a lot of pedestrians. So every part of this country should be friendly to everyone.”

He thinks that the pavement in Bangkok isn’t as bad as a battlefield. It’s not that tough, but he feels that they should be better than this. They should be pedestrian friendly. The pavement is the area for pedestrians to walk. It should be friendly to pedestrians, as they are also taxpayers.

by Kitipat Chuensukjit