Today, the first regular “Bangkok Car Free Sunday” was organized. The idea was to encourage people to leave their cars at home and take their bike instead. For many people, that is easier said than done. Even though I took the BTS Skytrain into Bangkok today, I still had a 45 minute drive to my nearest station. Taking my bike on the BTS was quite easy and it didn’t cost any extra money. However, it is probably only practical to do this on Sunday mornings. Coming home I had to let two trains pass as they were too full.
Cyclists from all around Bangkok were invited to join a bike rally this morning starting at the King Rama VI statue in front of Lumphini Park. By 8:30 a.m. just over 400 people had registered to join the rally with their own bikes. A further 100 people signed up for the free bikes. Quite a few people were obviously serious riders as they were all dressed up in the proper gear. But, it was encouraging to see a number of families and also teenagers on their bikes.
The Bangkok Governor was at the starting point to wave us off. He actually rode on a bicycle for a bit, but that was only for the cameras and for only 30 meters. For us, we had two loops that covered about 10 kilometers. We first went along Rama IV Road, then up Wireless Road, past the US Embassy, turning left at Phloenchit and then left again at Ratchaprasong. We then rode down Ratchadamri Road, with a brief stop at AUA, before completing our first loop back at the King Rama VI statue.
Our second loop was a bit more interesting. We headed down Silom Road first where we did a brief stop at this abandoned Christian cemetery. Only this small chapel with a cross on the roof is left. Apparently they are going to develop this into a green space for local people. We then turned left into Pan road, where we passed the Hindu temple (below) and then at Sathorn Road we turned left again. We had regular breaks along the way which made it a very easy bike ride. Our last stop was Christ Church on Soi Convent. This church dates back to 1864.
At each place we visited, there was someone there who told us about the environment and also a bit of the history of the place. This was done in both Thai and English. Apparently they are now planning on holding this event on the first Sunday of every month. I heard that the next one will be in Bang Kae. I will post on www.ThaiTravelBlogs.com as soon as this is confirmed. Bangkok apparently already has 28 separate cycle paths covering a distance of 20 kilometers. They said that they will work on more.
All of these pictures were taken on my iPhone and uploaded live onto Twitter and my moblog www.MyThaiPhotos.com live during the event. I then uploaded the rest onto my Facebook page while I was riding the Skytrain to my next destination. Incidentally, if you are taking your bike on the Skytrain, it is advisable to use the last carriage. If you want to take it on the MRT Subway, they will only let you if you have a folding bike.
Map showing the route of the 1st Bangkok Car Free Sunday Bicycle Ride: