You Own Your Motorbike, Not the Roads

People wear protective facemasks on a street in Phnom Penh on January 31, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

Consideration wins friends in the rush hour



As the city expands and people become increasing active, transportation has grown and become busier. A decade ago, a family of four or five might own one motorbike, or two at most.



However, as schedules become tighter and destinations become further away, even young high school students need their own motorbike to commute around the city both day and night.



A family of four or five with one or two motorbikes has become less common in cities. An increasing number of city dwellers are spending more and more time on the roads.



It’s a painful chore which many people have to confront almost every day.



For some, a motorbike, especially an expensive and luxurious one, can be exciting. A relatively simple machine can offer jaw-dropping speed with a small twist of the throttle.



However, some drivers can be too excited about their motorbikes. Sometimes, they ignore that they are not the only ones using the roads. The absence of ethics while driving is not something to be proud of.



For those who remember their uncaring action while driving, please take a step back, relax and be open-minded for a moment. Imagine seeing yourselves from another perspective.



Zigzagging around the roads and creating near-misses with other drivers may leave you thinking other commuters see you as brave and risk-taking. Switching swiftly and dangerously from one lane to another with your shiny new motorbike at high speed may make you feel hyped. However, this kind of ignorant action does not impress anyone else on the road.



On the other hand, most Phnom Penh roads are far from suitable for pedestrians. Sometimes, sidewalks are occupied by small businesses or parking.



In a number of places, there is no sidewalk. Those who walk must use the side of roads where motorbikes, cars and trucks speed past. Some motorbike drivers show no mercy or slow down and create a safe space between them and pedestrians. Some just zoom past walkers at dangerously high speeds. Will pedestrians applaud your inconsiderate action? The chance of this is low.



Furthermore, modifying your exhaust pipe to increase your engine noise is not going to please anyone, especially in the middle of the night when people are asleep. Many motorbikes are equipped with sound-dampening materials or designs to minimize engine noise. Disregarding this only irritates people who need a good night’s sleep. Disregarding this will not give you a good reputation from your neighbors.



These are only some of the “immoral” behaviors which can be easily avoided by using one’s “working” brain. Immorality is defined differently by different people with different backgrounds and that is totally understandable. Nevertheless, common sense does not differ much between people.



Traffic laws may not cover all circumstances. However, a small mix of moral behavior may render our traffic safer for everyone. In Cambodia, few motorbike drivers are trained thoroughly in driving. During peak hours, the roads can be chaotic. Just as in any other action, immorality rarely creates value.



Before you hop on your motorbike and drive off, ask yourself: “Am I a racer or am I a commuter?”



If you need to race, go to the race tracks. Not everyone wants to race with you in the city.


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