Saturday, February 23, 2008

Walk With Care

Motorcycles and scooters rule Chiang Mai. One person told me that there are busses, but the wait is too long and then you have to walk. Everyone seems to have a motorized two wheeler. There are a few others on actual bicycles. And walking isn't easy at all. And I'm not talking about the weather which has been pleasantly cool and dry. Cool means between high 80s in the day, but down into the mid 60s at night.

Here's what pedestrians face.

Sidewalks are the parking lots of the ruling class.

Does the placement of this phone booth suggest that anyone thought pedestrians were important?

And then there is the issue of crossing the streets. Here there is a continuous flow of cars. There are no crosswalks at most corners and even when it seems like there is a green light, the traffic patterns have cars turning right, then left across where pedestrians have to cross. I have seen a couple places where there were actually lights in the middle of a block that would stop traffic and let pedestrians pass, maybe three of those so far.

And even where there are reasonable sidewalks, like on the Chiang Mai University campus, when you get to the gates going off campus, suddenly the sidewalks stop and you have to walk in the traffic lane to get out.

So, as I was contemplating maybe we should give in and get a motorcycle while we're here, Melissa told me that yesterday a French-Canadian volunteer was killed yesterday in a motor accident where, apparently, a motorcycle was involved.

I have my bicycle and the short ride to work is fairly easy and I could get about town fine. And J is good with her feet. And there are the red little jitney trucks if you have to go further or carry something. And for tomorrow morning's trip to the airport to send J off to visit our son in Singapore - he has school break next week - we ordered a taxi.

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