Everyone who travels to Thailand will want to have Chiang Mai on their list. It’s an old city which reflects the lovely northern Thai culture and has a lot of significant history behind it. My wife and I spent our first anniversary there because it’s very nice and peaceful. Chiang Mai is a place where Thais often go to recharge and take advantage of the slower pace of life. I have started recently travelling to Chiang Mai more often for work, but even that is also pleasurable.
Chiang Mai has grown so much, and so fast. We see more and more cars in the city center. The traffic jams are becoming problematic and the public transportation issue remains an unsolved problem. To help, the World Bank is supporting the Chiang Mai Municipality's vision of promoting “green mobility” with help from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is a small pilot project that supports non-motorized transport, such as walking and bicycling, by improving city center's walk path and bicycle lanes in the city center.
There were several rounds of consultations about the project that took place over a few months between the communities and the local government in Chiang Mai. I was an observer in most of these consultations and I was delighted to see positive outcomes after each meeting. Most communities who lived around the old city in Chiang Mai felt that the project was okay while the communities around the pilot project site had concerns about road closures and worsening traffic.
Everyone had different perspectives but they all wanted the best for Chiang Mai and their communities. Although they sometimes disagreed on certain points, both the community and local government listened to each other. Their patience and open-mindedness were key.
Now the project is moving forward. The design for the pedestrian/bicycle friendly recreation area is based on suggestions of the communities. We will have pedestrian/bicycle-friendly recreation areas right in the heart of Chiang Mai city by early 2014. What can your city do to become greener?