Posted by: mensab | June 30, 2008

“Motorcycles have killed the pedestrians in Jakarta”

jakarta downtownLet me begin by saying that I have been a pedestrian for so long as I could remember, and I am proud of it. Pedestrians, unite and walk!


One thing I could not miss noticing in Jakarta is the ubiquitous motorcycles. Every morning when I am on the way to ASEAN by a Metro Mini (mini-bus Jakarta style), a herd of black helmet and jacket-wearing motorcycle riders swarms the streets of the eight-lane Mampang Prapatan up to the four-lane Kap Tendean. Mampang Prapatan’s two-lanes in the middle are reserved for the exclusive use of TransJakarta buses.


One good thing about the Metro Mini buses is that they are loads of them with designated numbers. My bus is number 75. I have not seen number 1 though. But I saw number 610. There must be lots of them here. Creatively, they have the same color (combination of orange and blue). That’s why I don’t have to miss my number or else I will get somewhere in Jakarta, not my destination. I think I should try to be somewhere I don’t know. Hmmmmm…


There is another Metro Mini buses named Kopaja. They are colored green and white. They have numbers too. They distract me whenever I am looking and waiting for my bus 75. I have the bus number on my wallet, cellfone, notebook, and on the first day, on my palm. Great way not to forget huh! Trust me, it works.


Anyway, from my house, I ride on a motorcycle or I have to walk 25 minutes in a “business causal” attire. Wow, you should see how Jakarta has changed me! I look good and feel good. Believe me, otherwise you’re not my friend. Coincidentally, “Yakob” usually drives me to the busway. It costs me 5,000 rupiahs (1 peso = 200 rupiahs). It costs me more than riding a Metro Mini which charges 2,500 rupiahs. When “Yakob” learned that I am Filipino, he immediately blurted with a closed fist while driving, “Manny Pacquiao.” He loves Pacquiao more than I do, I think. What’s not to love in Pacquiao? He won again another title. This time in the lightweight division, and distinguishing himself as the only Asian to win championship titles in four different weight divisions.


Every corner of the streets in Mampang area has a pool of motorcycles waiting for passengers to take them somewhere. In my house, there are seven motorcycles and five cars parked inside the compound. We are, in my unofficial count, 15 tenants in the house. So only me and two more pedestrians who do not drive a fuel-powered transportation machine.


Based on a news report in Kompas June 6, 2008, there were about 45,948,747 motorcycles in Indonesia in 2007. It is almost 46 million motorcycles spread across the archipelago. With 222.1 million population, Indonesia has 1 motorcycle for every 5 persons. So Indonesia is basically running on motorcycles.


Whenever I go, I see very few people walk on the sidewalks or streets of Jakarta. Motorcycles become people’s convention to move from one place to another. I understand that motorcycles move fast and can navigate the streets on their own way. Besides, they consume less gas than cars.


In the portion of Jakarta where I pass, deserted sidewalks are typical scenes. I and Biney (my classmate and co-intern in ASEAN) use the sidewalk with ease and leisure in the afternoon for strolling, unsidewalkder the shade of trees and cloud of gas-smoke. I look around.


Where have all the pedestrians gone?


They have taken over the streets of Jakarta, on their motorcycles.




  1. That’s just how it is. With the gas price (BBM) price soaring, motorcycles would be the cheaper and sometimes more efficient option compared to cars.

    You’d likely find more pedestrians at Jakarta’s suburbs, housing areas and surrounding the neighbourhood. Or you could also visit Bandung, 4 hours drive from Jakarta, you’d find plentiful of pedestrians there and the air in Bandung is still quite fresh for a walk.

    Ironic though that you should drive first, so that you can walk.

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