On May 22, 2011, Jakarta set a new milestone towards a healthier and more livable city. The Jakarta administration inaugurated the first Jakarta’s dedicated bicycle lane stretching 1.5 kilometers from Ayodia Park to Blok M in South Jakarta. Jakarta is late in promoting bicycle lanes. Jakarta has focused in promoting the use of cars by building more elevated inner city toll roads and ignored the importance of non-motorist trips in the city.
Many metropolitans in the world have developed dedicated bicycles lanes for years. Cities in developed countries, particularly in Europe, have integrated bicycle lanes into their transportation network systems. Those cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Barcelona have been developed as bike-friendly cities. Safe and extensive bike route networks, promotion of pro-cyclist policies, and a bike culture have taken places in those cities. Cyclists in those cities are not second class residents and can safely ride their bicycles as the main mode for their daily commute to their workplaces. Copenhagen is an example of European bike-friendly city where about a third of workforce in this city commute to the office by bike.
The inauguration of the first Jakarta’s dedicated bike lane stretching from Ayodia Park to Blok M should also be considered as a breakthrough in solutions for acute traffic congestions in Jakarta. The development of dedicated bicycle lanes is a good move from the Jakarta administration for promoting the use of bicycle as an alternative transportation mode. If the Jakarta city administration could encourage more motorists to shift to using bicycle to work, the city’s chronic traffic woes could be eventually reduced.
Some Copenhageners on their way home in the afternoon, along the busiest boulevard in the capital, Hans Christian Andersen's Boulevard. Over 20,000 bikes a day on this stretch and this intersection is among the busiest in the kingdom. Notice the abundance of traffic lights, for extra safety. Cyclists here have three lights to look at. Helpful if you're stuck at the back of a queue of 50-75 bikes. You'll always be able to see one.The first dedicated bike lane in Jakarta is only a small step in developing Jakarta as a bike-friendly city. There are many challenges for Jakarta to be a bike-friendly city. The Jakarta city administration needs to have a strong commitment to build more dedicated bike lanes and integrate them with the city transportation network system. Dedicated bike lanes should be part of the city transportation network system and designed to accommodate the need of residents’ mobility in the city. It is very essential to connect dedicated bike lanes with mass transportations including the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT).
It’s not easy to build more dedicated bike lanes if the Jakarta city administration still focuses on building more elevated inner-city toll roads as the solution of addressing the chronic traffic woes in Jakarta. It is also important to note that the first dedicated bike lane was not initiated by the Jakarta city administration but the Indonesian Bicycle Community (Komite Sepeda Indonesia) that donated as much as 500 million rupiahs to build the bike lane. The Jakarta city administration needs to change the mindset of the possible solution for the chronic traffic congestion in the city. The solution is not building more roads, but reducing the use of cars through improving and expanding the use of mass transportations and bicycles.
Another big challenge for bike lanes in Jakarta is the lack of law enforcement. The Jakarta city administration should strictly enforce the dedicated bike lanes for cyclists. The dedicated bike lane cannot be used as parking spots and a lane for motorcyclists. A few days after the inauguration of the bike lane stretching from Ayodia Park to Blok M, the lane was overwhelmed by private cars, pubic minivans and three-wheeled vehicles bajaj. A number of private cars were also parking in the lane (The Jakarta Post, 27 May 2011). Without strict law enforcement, the dedicated bike lane will not be an effective way to reduce the Jakarta’s traffic woes and will only be a failed initiative.
(This article was also reposted at Berburu Center on June 14, 2011 and at This Big City on October 17, 2011)