In Bangkok, sometimes the fastest way to get from one place to another is to walk. But in a city notorious for accidents and injuries, here are 7 points to keep in mind when out and about on city streets, especially with little ones in tow.
1. Be aware of motorbikes, everywhere. Bikes don’t always follow the general direction of traffic; they can often be seen going against traffic illegally. They also drive on footpaths to avoid heavy road activity. Whether you’re on a main road or in a small soi, make sure that there are no bikes coming from any direction before crossing the street.
2. Always assume that motorized traffic will not stop for pedestrians, even children. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a zebra crossing or a designated pedestrian crossing with illuminated “walk” lights, don’t step onto the street until you are sure that oncoming vehicles will slow to a stop. Also, in Thailand, flashing headlights from a car usually serves as a warning that the driver does not intend to slow down or stop.
3. Use elevated pedestrian bridges when possible. They may require a little more effort, but pedestrian overpasses are safer for getting across roads with fast-moving traffic. With access to both sides of the street, BTS and MRT stations are also great for crossing the road or busy intersections. Some even have elevated paths (like the one connecting Chidlom and Siam), and elevators, which are useful for prams, but you may have to request access from the station staff.
4. Watch out for bus lanes. On some Bangkok streets, buses have a designated lane where they may be driving in an opposite direction to vehicles in other lanes. Again, always look both ways before crossing or seek out the nearest pedestrian overpass.
5. Be wary of turning vehicles. At intersections, scan over your shoulder for turning cars. They may or may not have right of way – just make sure you’re able to gauge the driver’s intent before crossing. Also, poorly designed turns, misplaced planters, advertising banners, etc, can block a driver’s visibility.
6. Walk facing traffic on streets with no sidewalks. This is safer as you can establish eye contact with approaching motorists and make quicker judgments concerning your family’s safety.
7. Wait to cross roads with other people, especially when you’re in doubt. The premise of “safety in numbers” rings true on Bangkok streets.