Capturing the cycle-scape in Chiang Mai: Realities and obstacles


  • Julian Huang Faculty of Architecture Chiang Mai University


cycling, cycle-space, realities, obstacles, Chiang Mai


As the cycling renaissance in the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is gathering pace, this paper examines the driving forces behind its revival; both in an international and a local context. It discusses how the climatic and geographic characters of the city have helped to propel it into an emerging hub for international cyclists. It attempts to document a more accurate account and to highlight the characteristics of cycling in the city by collating with both the statistics gathered from the latest city transport survey and fresh primary data gathered from a series of questionnaire surveys specifically targeting local cyclists. Using these statistics this investigation reveals a growing disparity between the increasing number of bicycle owners and the actual number of bicycle trips made in the city. Furthermore, comparing the primary data against the survey statistics reveals shifting demographics of cyclists in and around the city, and an evolving function of the bicycle. Crucially, this study for the first time identifies cyclists’ perceptions of riding in the city, including specific obstacles they face in experiencing the city via the saddle. These elements are then spatially mapped in order to assess the suitability of cycling in different areas of Chiang Mai. The findings suggest parts of the city that are less developed where it contains the natural backdrops of the urban fabric is fuelling the growth of cycling; while the more developed aspects of the city, particularly areas that have been modernised in the latter half of the last century, are posing the biggest hindrance for cyclists. This study hopes to shine a new light on the city’s cycle-scape and develop a better understanding of the realities of cycling in the context of Chiang Mai.