Wrong Side Walkers

May 24, 2011

Shoppers at Central World Mall Elevated Walkway Exit - Bangkok, Thailand - Daily Travel Photos
(Bangkok, Thailand)
f/11 ▪ 1/50s ▪ @17mm ▪ ISO200 ▪ Canon 5D ▪ Canon 17-40mm f/4
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Early afternoon shoppers at the Central World Mall's elevated walkway in Bangkok.

I see this scene at least 3 times/week since this is a standard route I take when I'm whacking around the mall area. However, I wanted to bring up a point that's very particular to Thailand. That is, the schizophrenic nature of Thai foot traffic. Here, you see the reverse of what this society should do. Allow me to elaborate.

Most countries' pedestrians walk on the same side of the sidewalk as that of its motorized traffic on the road. In the US, we drive on the right and therefore, people tend to walk on the right side of the sidewalk as opposite foot-traffic approaches on the left side (very generally). In a country like England, which contrarily drives on the wrong left side of the road, people generally walk favoring the left side of the sidewalk. This walking is most pronounced on escalators. People, for example, in London, ride an escalator by hugging the left side and allowing walkers to pass on the right just like highway traffic and its passing rules. Throw all the generalizations out the window for Thailand.

Thailand's motorized traffic flows like England's, on the left side of the road. However, as you can see by the photo above, foot traffic, in this instance mirrors that of America, or right side of the road traffic. Walk a few feet away and the direction can very abruptly change. The problem often arises when an opposite foot-traffic Mexican-standoff occurs. You're walking. Suddenly, you see someone hurtling on a collision course at you so you sidestep... but so do they... you sidestep again... and by coincidence, so do they until finally, you're face to face and near ready to kiss. I love this country more than any other in the world so god bless them but for the love of Pete, some local politician needs to sort out this walking schizophrenia.

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