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Island View: For cyclists’ sakes

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PHUKET: There has been a lot of talk lately about bike safety throughout the nation, with even the idea of cyclists needing some sort of licence being considered.

Concerns were made ever more vocal after last month’s road deaths up north in Chiang Mai and Bangkok where a total of five cyclists were killed within a two-day span.

It wasn’t until this weekend, when I attended the 2015 Southern Criterium at Saphan Hin, that I realized how many cyclists there actually are on the island.

I now understand clearly the need for more safety regulations concerning bike lanes, parked cars and the like.

There are not many areas on the island in which cyclists can freely ride around without having to play a veritable game of Frogger with cars, both stationary and in motion.

Parked cars are one of the most dangerous obstacles a cyclist can face, forcing them to ride into traffic or swerve away from a driver opening the car door without first looking.

If the government is truly wanting to make eco-tourism popular on the island, then there needs to be a safer way to ride. It is dangerous enough to ride around when you have an idea of the roads and traffic, but what of the tourists who are expecting to have a somewhat relaxing bike ride around the island?

The city I used to live in was very cycle friendly. In fact, it had what they call the ‘green way’ – a highway of sorts for bikers and skaters that ran through the city – which would reach out to the suburbs.

In addition, the streets throughout the city had a designated bike lane of which cars were considerate – for the most part. Why? Because they were fined if they were caught driving or parking in it. No questions asked.

I know you can’t change overnight what has been in place for at least 15 years, but instead of making it harder for cyclists to ride with mandatory licencing and only ‘warning’ cars who park in designated lanes, why not actively push toward driver awareness and safer trails? If not for tourists, then for the people who live and love being here.

— Debbie Adams

 

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