There are a lot of times when infrastructure in Bangkok leaves me underwhelmed. But sometimes, the planets align and we have a piece of infrastructure that impresses. Such is the case with the recently-reopened “Sky Lane” bicycle track around Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The 23.5-km (14.6-mile) track opened originally in late 2014 or early 2015 and was so well-received that they closed it for five months to upgrade it, with the corporate sponsorship of Siam Commercial Bank. The track reopened in November and is been a big success. Some highlights of the project:
- The track is double-width, striped with a passing lane and distance markers every quarter-kilometer, and paved to international standards
- More than 600 light poles allow for after-hours riding. Currently the track opens at 6:00 am and last entry is 7:00 pm; I understand you can ride until 10:00 pm
- Four sets of clean, large men’s and women’s restrooms are located in each quadrant of the track
- Entry is controlled by snap bands with RFID chips, which can be obtained for free by registering with a photo identification
- There is a 1500-space parking lot with security guards, lighting, closed-circuit cameras and plenty of room to safely on- and off-load bicycles and change gear
- There is also a shorter 1.6-km training track near the parking lot, allowing families and those who need a shorter route to ride; this track has a parallel jogging track
- I have made three trips there so far, all in the morning. Arriving at 6:30 this morning, the parking lot was busy and hundreds of riders were already on the track. Despite this, the facility did not feel crowded.
One thing you discover is that out in the open fields on the outskirts of Bangkok, there is a stiff breeze! Along one side of the track, it was easy to average a speed of 30 km/hour. On the other side, heading into the wind, it was tough to stay much above 20 km/hour!
As the track surrounds the airport, I enjoy the opportunity to watch the planes. There are a few good vantage points, although you are set back from the action, not right up against it. There are a few early morning arrivals and departures of larger jets and I suppose a true enthusiast could time his or her riding with the schedules of the most interesting airlines.
There appears so be some construction near the entry of the Sky Lane, presumably for some shops and hopefully restaurants. I’ve read on the website that bike repair facilities will be coming, too. Bicycle rentals would be an obvious addition, I hope.
All in all, this is a world-class facility that gives the every-growing cycling community a safe space to ride. If you have the opportunity and are so inclined, I would encourage you to check it out.