You wouldn’t think cycling in Bangkok, Thailand would ever become popular. Not when Bangkok is one of the world’s most congested and polluted cities. But, in the last few years, cycling in Bangkok has started to take off as more Thais and expats join the biking trend.
I know at least four people who now cycle around Bangkok regularly and have even joined the bike rental trend whereas, when I first arrived in Thailand 10 years ago, I didn’t know anyone who would. So, why has cycling become such a trend in one of the world’s most unfriendly-to-cyclists cities and why are Thais now using and renting bikes in Bangkok in record numbers?
Of course Thais, like any other nationality, love to join in with a trend and so, as cycling has become more popular in cities from London to Madrid and New York to Singapore, it’s not surprising you now see more bikes around Bangkok as well.
Not just a trend, though, I believe. That’s because as traffic in Bangkok worsens every year despite the government continuing to promise they’ll ‘fix the situation’, I can easily see why riding a bike around the city would be more preferable to sitting in a car. Even when you take into account Bangkok’s horrendous pollution and heat.
Quite frankly, it’s the ease of getting from point a to point b on a bike that makes riding and renting bikes in Bangkok so appealing . An ease that simply doesn’t exist when driving a car or sitting in a taxi or on a bus; something that can take up to half an hour or longer just to travel a mile.
Of course, as many people point out, it’s not all smooth cycling in Bangkok either. What with all the obstacles, the crowded street markets, the non-bike friendly steps and potholes in roads, and the huge amount of vehicles you’re sharing the road with, it can sometimes be dangerous.
But, as oil becomes more expensive by the year, I tend to agree with a Thai cyclist I know who believes more and more Thais will eventually move back to two wheels — whether it’s owning their own or renting a bike just to run errands.
Heck, it’s why I currently take motorbike taxis almost everywhere I go. They’re cheaper than taxis and I get to my destination four times as fast.
By the way, if you want to get in on the cycling craze in Bangkok but don’t want to rent a bike, you can buy adult and children’s bikes in Bangkok in a variety of excellent stores.