50km of Skywalks to be Built in Bangkok

Bangkok has a unique street-level culture.  Footpaths overflow with food vendors, hawkers, beggars, and motorbikes.  Sometimes there is even room for pedestrians.  This sidewalk chaos is simultaneously the charm of the city and the bane of its residents’ efforts to get from place to place.  The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced big plans to move the pedestrians above the crowd onto a 50-km network of skywalks.

Skywalk 2
In the future, it seems we will all be computer animated!

Dubbed the “Super Skywalk”, this network would connect existing Skytrain stations with nearby businesses, much in the way the Ratchaprasong shopping district is connected to both the Chidlom and Siam stations.  Ambitious in scope, the skywalks would not only follow all existing Skytrain lines, they would also trace new paths above busy streets like Thong Lo, Asoke, Ramkhamhaeng, and Whithayu (Wireless).

Map from the BMA showing the proposed Super Skywalk network.

The entire network is slated to be complete in four years, with the first portion, 16 km following the Sukhumvit line from Nana station to Soi Baring (Sukhumvit 107, end of the extension to the line that should open later in 2011), set to open within 18 months.  Interestingly, some of the sections such as Thong Lo and Ramkhamhaeng follow routes Bangkok’s governor has proposed for a monorail line.  There has been no explanation if those plans are still underway.

The pedestrian bridge built under the Skytrain viaduct, heading east from the Asoke station.

I’ve written previously about various pedestrian bridges being built to connect to Skytrain stations and I’m certainly not the first person to think that a wider network of skywalks would encourage more use of the mass transit systems. 

There are many questions to consider, though.  Will these new skywalks be kept clear of vendors?  Some of the elevated footpaths near Siam Square often look like a repeat of the sidewalks down below, minus the motorbikes.  Also, will the skywalks result in diminished business for the vendors along the street or even for regular, fixed businesses?  Considering that the governor has also proposed creating designated spaces for the vendors similar to Singapore’s hawker centers, perhaps this is part of a larger plan.

It will be interesting to see if and when this project actually is built, what the effects are.  Original article in The Nation newspaper.

0 thoughts on “50km of Skywalks to be Built in Bangkok

  1. The first time I visited Bangkok, I took a taxi to the skytrain and got off at Asoke. Then, I walked around and found a hotel nearby. I don’t know Thai, but I had no trouble getting around on the skytrain and later the subway. I connected to the AC bus and the train from these lines. The skywalk looks like another good idea. Will they allow hoverboards?

  2. I love how things are shaping up in Bangkok. Anyway, the metropolitan development authority of Metro Manila is drafting plans to save our city and make it a “premiere city” by 2016 – I’m looking forward to that. We have a skywalk that spans one entire avenue in one CBD.

  3. I always make fun of the architecture models with the computer people in them to the Architect. They always look a little off…The skywalks look like they’re going to be really cool. I can’t wait to see pictures of when they start being finished (hint, hint)!

  4. That’s an interesting idea! Sort of like the PATH in Toronto, except it’s underground here. Personally, it works well here, but they line the sides of the path with retail stores and such. If they allow a very limited amount of vendors on the skywalks, then perhaps it’ll be better? Like, you could be walking to your station in the morning, but stop by a vendor for breakfast or something!

  5. @AzureRecollections – Yes, actually that’s very much what it is like.  I think Edmonton also has an elevated system in their downtown, don’t they?  Hong Kong has an extensive network of elevated walkways in Central, which is very convenient.  The entrance to station areas in BKK do have small vendors selling food, coffee, juices, etc.@TheCheshireGrins – @murisopsis – Oh, you can rest sure that I’ll be following this project closely.  While it may be a bit boring for many readers, issues of how I can more easily get around my city are fascinating to me.@fuzzynavel – Yes, I’m tailoring my shopping list that way so I can have a futuristic look.@oxyGENE_08 – Anytime a city actually sits down and has a plan for how to improve the city, it is a positive first step.  Whether the plan is well thought-out and can be implemented are, of course, whole different questions.@Dezinerdreams – For the sections that already exist, it has been a very effective system.  There’s one stretch in particular, between the Siam and Chidlom stations, that really has opened up the entire area as Bangkok’s shopping district.  @Ricardo98 – There may be speed limits imposed on the hoverboards.  LOL@ZSA_MD – @ElusiveWords – Yes, the question of keeping the walkways free of vendors will ultimately be the key one.  If they can keep them clear, the system will be great.  Otherwise, they will just be elevated footpaths, as messy as the ones below.@CurryPuffy – On one chat site for expats there was a lot of complaining about how the fumes from the traffic get trapped under the skytrain viaduct and so the air on the skywalks will be worse than at street level.  That may or may not be true but my experience walking from place to place is that the skywalks seem much more pleasant than being on the ground.@alwateen – @yang1815 – Yes, we shall see how this plan works out.

  6. I’m not 100% sure about edmonton… When I was there this summer, I was just transferring flights, and the BC forest fires blanketted everything in smoke! But yeah, I quite like the idea of the walkways!

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