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Wheels up for airport bikers


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Wheels up for airport bikers

By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
THE NATION

 

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An artist’s conception of the new-look Sky Lane, with a fast lane added for professionals.

 

The popular cycling track at Suvarnabhumi is closing for another major revamp

 

THE SKY LANE cycling track next to Suvarnabhumi International Airport will be bustling today and tomorrow as riders do a few farewell laps before the site is closed for major improvements that will make the whole operation bigger and better. The grand reopening is scheduled for in mid-November.

 

Prasong Poontaneat, chairman of Airports of Thailand, announced the last-chance event this week at SCB Park Plaza, noting that his agency has been collaborating with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) on the Sky Lane since 1985.

 

“Our aim was to make the bike lane the best in Thailand, a place where cyclists can ride happily, healthily and safely while making new friends,”

 

Prasong said. He believes that goal has since been surpassed.

 

The AOT had originally turned an earthen barrier around the airport perimeter into a 23.5-kilometre cycling track as a demonstration of its corporate social responsibility. The “Green Track” – so called because of the green paint applied to the surface – was always a great spot for safe and healthy exercise.

 

That site was closed for renovations through the last half of 2015, but when it reopened as the Sky Lane, users were given cool “Snap Bands” to wear on their wrists that made them feel even more safe.

 

Embedded with GPS and radio-frequency identification technology, the wristbands show the rider’s location for added security in case of accident. In the near future the wearer will be able to use it to buy goods and services electronically, no cash needed.

 

The Sky Lane proved to be more efficient, with better infrastructure and facilities to handle an increasing number of professional and recreational cyclists – and it was a whole lot safer too.

 

“Everyone was happier with the added convenience,” Prasong said. “It was much closer to the international standard with its smooth surface, a rest area and restrooms, and the Snap Band, which was used there for the first time.

 

“There’s solar-powered LED lighting so you can ride from 6am to 7pm. The parking lot is big enough for 1,500 vehicles and watched by security guards. And we have a team patrolling the area, keeping vigilant watch over the cyclists.

 

“At its peak use, we had 2,000 to 3,000 cyclists on the Sky Lane on weekdays and 5,000 to 10,000 on weekends.”

 

Now, after a year and three months, it’s time for some further improvements. The Sky Lane will close on Tuesday so it can be made bigger and safer still. Prasong said the revamp will result in “a more comprehensive infrastructure”, including an additional cycling track, a resurfaced jogging track, expanded parking, a bike bridge linked to the airport’s own parking facility, and a Bike Centre.

 

“The number of cyclists using the Sky Lane has steadily increased and it’s become more crowded,” explained Siam Commercial Bank chairman Vichit Suraphongchai.

 

“We think the Sky Lane can be better developed and become the No 1 facility of its kind in the world, not just in Thailand. Nowhere else can you find a cycling course of its length so close to the heart of a major city, and with such a safe and comfortable cycling environment.

 

“And the development this time will make it bigger and better than ever,” Vichit said. “First we’ll build another lane parallel to the original two for the professional cyclists, who need to reach high speeds. We don’t really like to categorise the various cyclists like that, but it’s a matter of safety – there’ll be fewer accidents.

 

“Secondly, the 1,500-car parking lot is no longer enough, so we’ll build a five-metre-high bridge to the airport’s long-term parking facility, which can handle 3,500 cars. Overall there’ll be space for 5,000 cars.

 

“Thirdly, we’ll add more facilities at the rest areas, then a first-aid point, and finally a centre with a food court, repair and maintenance services and additional space where more food and beverages will be sold.”

 

Vichit said the plans also call for a 1.2km loop for rookie cyclists and children, alongside a jogging track.

 

“We’re encouraging kids to ride and, with nice landscaping and trees in the rest areas, it will be a suitable recreation area for the whole family. We’re confident that there’s be no other cycling circuit with a one-stop service centre like this anywhere in the world.”

 

So it’s time to get in some last laps before the diggers roll out. AOT and the bank are hosting a “farewell party” today and tomorrow at which the big plans will be on display and the project manager will be on hand to answer questions. Everyone will get a souvenir to take home.

 

The Sky Lane Thailand Facebook Fan Page has all the news and updates.

 

While work continues at the airport track deep into autumn, cyclists looking for alternative locations can check out the bank-sponsored site www.Bike.SCB, which carries a range of ideas and recommendations.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/life/leisure/30311533

 

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-04-08

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6 hours ago, worgeordie said:

How long before there's stalls set up selling noodles etc,

regards worgeordie

 

Funny you say that.   The first thing I thought when I read the article was 'who do I contact to get a vendor licence'.

I've got a friend who rides there frequently, I shall be asking him for some info and I guess I'll go down there mid week and next weekend to see where vending could be done.

 

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There exist the possibility that the Skylane becomes and amazing place... 

 

Once expanded, it could have restaurants etc, kids play areas... families could go down on weekends, exercise, have dinner... it holds some great potential.... I'd like to see its continued success - it really is an excellent facility already. 

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