No one disputes what eyes, ears and noses have detected in recent years: The number of motor vehicles on the streets of Cambodia in general and of Phnom Penh in particular has swelled dramatically.
Residents (and, of course, virtually all tourists) don’t even think of walking here. For one thing, it is considered too dangerous. However, I suspect that most folks believe walking alongside, not on, sidewalks made impassable by parked conveyances is just too unpleasant. (I happen to like the exercise and thus put up with the disadvantages.)
As for taking a bicycle, many expats and locals seem comfortable with moving about on one. At the same time, virtually every expat who rides one confesses to close calls or worse.
When I found myself outside the school (at the corner of Norodom and Sihanouk boulevards) in the photos not long ago, I saw graphic evidence of the changes in locomotion over the years. While traveling on foot or bicycle was the norm in years past, the majority students these days seem to favor motorbikes, motorcycles or motor scooters when they can afford them.
Please note in the photo at the top how many bicycles are parked on the school’s lot; bicyclists turn left at the entrance into their area and students taking motorbikes or motor scooters, motorbikes or motorcycles, right. Thus, on the right side of the driveway is where you’ll find the transportation of increasing popularity despite how much pollution and congestion on the streets that the vehicles create. In the photo below, they stretch toward the fence all the way from the green awning near the entrance.
Although there is a law setting a minimum age for drivers, it seems to be honored in the breach. I see boys, often transporting younger siblings and apparently not even having reached maturity, confidently whizzing along on motorized vehicles daily.
I have to say that the sight continues to startle me.