Car-Free Day reduces air
pollution: Tests

Air quality tests along Jl. Sudirman in South Jakarta and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta show that the monthly Car-Free Day decrease air pollution in the areas.

Head of the Jakarta Environmental Management Board (BPLHD), Budirama Natakusumah, said Tuesday air pollution indicators had been lower during the last seven car-free days in the city.

The indicators of air pollution include the amount of dust, carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide in the air along the car-free route.

Car-Free Day has been held routinely since September last year on the last Sunday of every month, apart from October and November.

Along the road from the Senayan traffic circle on Jl. Sudirman, South Jakarta, to the Welcome Monument at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta, cars are cleared out for pedestrians.

Morning gymnastics, futsal games, bicycling, badminton, karate, an on-street library and musical performances take over the road.

According to the BPLHD, the amount of dust along the route on car-free days decreased between 30.17 percent and 52.12 percent from regular air quality readings.

The amount of carbon monoxide also decreased by between 47.42 percent and 73.13 percent, while nitrogen monoxide rates dropped between 22.62 percent and 78.95 percent.

Budirama said the test results had prompted the Jakarta administration to consider expanding the program into other areas in the city.

"By expanding the program's scope, we want to make people less dependent on private vehicles," he said.

Agus Pratamasari from environmental non-governmental organization Yayasan Pelangi Indonesia said the results showed the program had been a success in achieving its short-term goal.

"The program's short-term target is to provide evidence that most of the city's air quality problems are caused by motor vehicle emissions. Thus, to improve air quality, people should get into the habit of using public vehicles," he said.

Agus said the program would succeed in the long term if it could influence the country's decision makers to create more environmentally-friendly policies in transportation, energy and economy.

For this month's Car Free Day next Sunday, Budirama said the events would aim to campaign for a greener environment.

Governor Fauzi Bowo will present awards to some groups participating in promoting sustainable and environmentally-friendly development in Jakarta.

Budirama said the award categories would include the best auto repair shop for emissions testing, companies with the cleanest emissions and companies with the best non-smoking areas.(uwi)

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