Biking in Bangkok

March 9, 2013

Biking has been a lot in the Thai news recently; some of the candidates to become mayor of Bangkok tried to show their green side by stepping on a bike once and proclaiming they would try to make the city more bike-friendly. If I had to guess: this is not going to happen in the coming decades for some simple reasons: there is no space for biking lanes, Thai people don’t like to bike since it is too hot and there is sun, Thais don’t follow rules meaning biking lanes will soon convert into fast lanes for motorbikes, and most companies are not ready to let their employees come by bike by offering showers, dressing rooms, bike parking spaces, etc.

View from the entrance of Lumpinee park.

View from the entrance of Lumpinee park.

Some weeks ago I bought my first bike here in Thailand to be able to train on a bike. Luckily for me there is a pretty decent bike shop right next to Lumpinee park: Probike. When I was there to negotiate the price of the bike I wanted I was lucky they just had discounts ranging from 15% to 25%. The sales lady did warn me to not wait too long till the end of the promotion since this would reduce the chance of getting 20% or 25% off; she probably did not understand chance that well or I still don’t comprehend the amount of deceptions going on in this country. But luckily for me I got a total discount of 20% which saved me quite some baht since I had to rebuild my complete biking attire here in Thailand.

Probike bikeshop next to Lumpinee park.

Probike bikeshop next to Lumpinee park.

My new Trek 1.1 road bike

My new Trek 1.1 road bike

The spot to bike for me in Bangkok is Lumpinee park. In this park there is a biking lane which is open from 10AM till 3PM every day with a total length of 2.5km. During this time it is never very busy in the park besides some joggers and other people on bikes, meaning you can comfortably do your rounds here without a need to swirl around pedestrians or running kids. Do not expect the biking lanes to be completely free for bikes though since most Thai disregard rules as a hobby.

The biking, and the running, tack in Lumpinee park is exactly 2.543km long.

The biking, and the running, track in Lumpinee park is exactly 2.543km long.

When possible I now grab my bike and make a trip to Lumpinee park to get some biking done. Normally there are several other people on road bikes in the park meaning you can easily team up and do the laps in a group. As a foreigner this is still a bit strange because people start following you all of a sudden without saying a word, which I can understand since not everybody is proficient enough in English, but also without taking over the lead every now and then, which is strange and not very social since the one in the lead will have to put in the most effort.

Just finished a tour of >50km.

Just finished a tour of >50km.

At first I sometimes rode my bike from Victory Monument to Lumpinee park to go biking there, but after a few times I realized how dangerous it is to be in traffic on a bike in Bangkok and now I always take the skytrain to the park to go biking. To promote biking in Bangkok it is allowed to bring your bike on the skytrain at no extra cost; the security guard at the gate will even let you in with a big smile and there is a big chance the other guard near the train will try to check out your bike without looking suspicious.

Me and my bike on the skytrain.

Me and my bike on the skytrain.

So far I have done some tours of 40-50km in the park where I totally disregard the official maximum speed of 20km/h. For the near future I will also go on the lookout for some other places in Bangkok where I can bike, as long as biking there is safe enough.

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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