Date registered: May 2005
Vehicle: 2009 BMW Z4, 2005 SLK 200, 2004 S 280
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Self help contra-flow in Bangkok
Creative driving in Bangkok:
Americans, even those from New Orleans, are pretty cop-fearing when it comes to obeying the rules of the road. Witness the TV pictures from the traffic helicopters when Katrina was coming to town: all the northbound lanes were clotted with cars that were going nowhere while the southbound lanes were totally empty. Since the cops had not sanctioned contra-flow it didn't happen ... even though common sense screamed otherwise.
Bangkokians go with common sense every time ... here road rules are suggestions that wash well only when they are convenient. Here is an example.
Friday afternoons are the worst time to drive in Bangkok ... especially when it has just rained. Foolish me. I drove to Chinatown and by the time I was halfway home rain, rush hour and school let-outs made our two southbound lanes a parking lot. The two northbound lanes were only moderately heavy with cars. At a certain point the southerners spontaneously created their own contra-flow. Within a minute we now had three lanes of traffic while the guys heading north had just one. The beauty of it was not that it occurred at some critical tipping point ... (of, say, bumper to bumper vehicle mass divided by its diminishing speed) ... but that it really did the job: traffic now flowed both ways.