BANGKOK: — Thailand will soon have the longest bike lane in Asia after the Department of Rural Roads days it is making preparations to construct the first ever asphalt surfaced bicycle lane in the country which is expected to be the longest of its kind in Asia.
The bike lane, which will extend to almost 200 kilometres and will pass through no less than 5 central provinces, will not only benefit rubber farmers who will find another outlet for their products but will also allow safe and coordinated bicycling activities.
The bike lane is to be built in honor of His Majesty the King’s December 5, 2015 birthday.
The department says it is notable in that it is a dedicated bicycle lane separated from those of regular traffic and will stretch a total distance of 184 kilometres.
It will cost an estimated 1.5 billion Baht and is expected to pass Pathumthani, Ayutthya, Ang Thong, Singburi and Chainat.
Natural rubber will be used as road surfacing material which will also benefit rubber planters.
About 40 tons of natural rubber valued at 4,800,000 baht will be needed. When completed in 2017 it will become the longest of its kind in Asia, said Mr Darun Saengchai, the director-general of the Department of Rural Roads.
He said natural rubber would be mainly employed as road surfacing material for the entire stretch which will greatly help rubber farmers.
As an added benefit, this will also allow much higher surface grip which will ensure greater safety during rainy seasons.
The specifications were worked out between the Department of Rural Roads and the Ministry of Transport to ensure uniformity throughout.
The proposed design specifies a total lane width of 3 meters which is divided into two 1.5 meter opposing lanes.
Periodic rest-stops have also been planned for along the entire route and engineers involved are confident that the specifications provide a safe bicycle lane that is comparable to international standards.
As of the present, survey and design work has progressed by more than 20%, he said.
Department chief engineer Suporn Thechaiya also said the main consideration during the design phase was how to ensure bicyclists are provided with the highest possible levels of safety.
“As such we are employing international standards for the construction of the project in accordance with US standard for the construction of roads.”
The project is estimated to take 3 years to complete and but at present, existing bicycle lanes such as the ones located within Suvarnabhumi Airport popularly known as the ‘Sanam Kiew’ or Green court currently ranked as one of the five best airports with bicycle lanes in the world; is being widely used by bicycle riders.
Sanam Kiew stretches for distance of more than 23 km and attracts more than 4,000 bicyclists daily.
It is at present temporary closed to undergo renovation and refurbishment and will again open at the end of the year
Another alternative for bicyclists within the capital is the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand’s (MRTA) bicycle lanes. It is gaining popularity with cyclists who do not wish to venture very far and attracts several hundred of riders daily.
The MRTA bicycle lane runs for a distance of more than 3 kilometres and is notable for its employing sections of 2 regular opposing motorist lanes for the exclusive use by bicyclists.
Furthermore, the lanes are surrounded by lush green trees and plans are underway for the construction of permanent dedicated bicycle lanes which will be separate from traffic lanes.