24 Jun

For a brief moment, sidewalk motorcyclists get stopped


I have written so many stories in the Bangkok Blog about motorcycles. There are over a million of them in the city and it seems that at any given time, most of them are being driven at crazy speeds on the sidewalks. I have mentioned all of this many times. For example there were a bunch of stories from 2006 that got lost for awhile and then found. (They are in a PDF file now.) And then in July of 2008, there was another story and still another May 13th 2010. This one was called The Uneasy Rider and had a cool slide show attached.  Then on May 17th of 2010, I wrote a piece about motorcycles on the sidewalks of Rama 4 Road and even produced the seminal movie called “Easy Riders: They Ride with Impunity.” It was a classic. (Well, the soundtrack was.  The soundtrack of The Uneasy Rider was good too.)

So now I’m back with another motorcycle story, but this one is a gotcha’ version. This story also takes place on Rama 4 Road. You should first understand that it’s against the law to drive a motorcycle on the sidewalk in Bangkok. Oh really, you might say!! We hadn’t noticed that this law was ever actually enforced, as it seems like motorcycles are always being driven on the sidewalks. I have said in past entries that while walking, I never wear earbuds and listen to music in Bangkok like I do in Toronto, as it’s important to stay sharp and listen for that engine coming up from behind so evasive action can be taken.

Every so often though, the Bangkok police try to crack down and stop the sidewalk riding and this was the case yesterday. While walking on Rama 4 Road, being passed by motorcycle after motorcycle, I noticed up ahead, where a small laneway meets the main street, that police guys were running out and catching sidewalk riders and dragging them into the lane. As I passed the lane, I noticed lots of smiling cops with lots of disgruntled riders. Big tickets were being handed out and I even got a thumbs up from one of the cops. He was pleased that he was protecting a potential victim foreigner from being squashed by bike. This was a momentary case where sidewalk riders fought the law and the law won.

Will this apparently lone act of enforcement stop the motorcycle guys from riding on the sidewalks? No way! As I returned from my meeting, walking the other way along Rama 4, the police were gone and I was passed by at least 15 motorcycles all happily avoiding traffic and riding on the sidewalk. It was just a momentary gotcha’ moment.

Oh and today, I had a meeting in another part of town and being pressed for time ended up taking a motorcycle taxi to the BTS station near Rama 4 Road.  The traffic was, of course, atrocious so we zoomed along the sidewalk, leaving pedestrians in our wake.  There were no cops at the lane.  We were free to ride illegally, paying no attention to the rules of the sidewalk.  I was aiding and abetting.  Perhaps I will pay in another life.  But I got to the meeting on time.

3 thoughts on “Gotcha’

  1. Is something illegal if its done 364 days a year? I feel like the tickets are just the cost of doing sidewalk business. Like a sidewalk tax lottery since only some of the drivers have to pay. So I wouldn’t think there is any need to worry about paying in the next life.

    • Good to know. I think that you’re right. I don’t think there are points deducted when getting a ticket here, so getting caught riding on the sidewalk and paying a quick fine on the spot is the cost of doing business. As far as I can tell almost everyone settles their tickets immediately with the enforcing officer.

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