With Pattaya’s traffic-light system having proved a monumental and expensive failure, city hall has ordered construction of raised “speed bump walkways” to slow cars and help pedestrians cross Beach Road.
The surfaces – designed to be 20 cm. high and 7 m. wide – were designed to keep crossing pedestrians in groups where they can be seen by motorists who flagrantly ignored red lights at pedestrian crossings throughout the city. They also make it easier for wheelchairs to move between sidewalks.
It appears designers of the newly built speed bumps / wheelchair crossings forgot another important detail, as the newly installed pedestrian signal stop buttons have been placed too high for wheelchair users to reach.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said the accessibility measures, part of a 139 million baht beachfront renovation project, are being installed at the intersections of Soi 3, Soi 9 and near Walking Street. Construction, however, has proved to be another Pattaya infrastructure boondoggle.
The walkways’ height and narrow width were being blamed for a string of accidents, mostly involving drunk and speeding motorcyclists who refused to slow down or barreled through construction zones while drunk driving. Instead of ordering police to crack down on reckless drivers, Ekasingh on Dec. 19 ordered construction halted, already-completed bumps ripped up, and work begun anew, this time on slightly lower, doubly wide paths that should upend speeders less often.
Wheelchair students from the Father Ray Foundation demonstrated the benefit of the first of the revised paths in front of the A-One hotel, proving it was possible to cross Beach Road if the area is mobbed by politicians and reporters. Real-world results are still pending.
It’s not the first time Pattaya has tried to reign in motorbikes to protect pedestrians. In 2010, the city spent millions of baht to install 42 traffic signals around the area. Drivers – including police – simply ignored the red lights. Four months later officially was declared a failure as city hall turned them off or changed them to blink permanently yellow.