The city police have ruled all motorcycles and public transportation vehicles must use the left lane or the slow lane of the capital’s main roads, in a bid to reduce traffic accidents and ease the abysmal congestion.
Traffic signs and road markers have been installed along several of the city’s busier roads, including Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta, Jl. Matraman, Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan and Jl. D.I. Panjaitan in East Jakarta, Jl. S. Parman in West Jakarta, Jl. Yos Sudarso in North Jakarta and Jl. Ciputat Raya in South Jakarta.
“We decided to put traffic signs on the roads because traffic jams in these areas are really bad,” city traffic police chief Sr. Comr. Chondro Kirono told reporters Wednesday.
“We want to improve road users’ discipline in abiding by traffic regulations to ease the congestion.”
Chaotic traffic has long been a problem in the capital, with more than 6.7 million motorcycles packing the capital’s streets everyday.
Traffic police will also require motorcyclists to use standard helmets that fully protect their heads. Many riders currently use substandard helmets.
Police said motorcyclists were less disciplined than car drivers. In 2008, police recorded 5,898 accidents involving motorcycles, with 1,169 fatalities, 2,597 severe injuries and 4,317 minor injuries.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Wahyono said that last year police ticketed 272,495 motorcyclists.
Wahyono also blamed public transportation drivers for the majority of traffic accidents.
“Last year, we issued 111,396 tickets to public transportation drivers.”
Police also recorded 2,076 accidents involving these drivers.
Fathoni, a resident of Plumpang in North Jakarta, welcomed the discipline campaign.
“For me, it’s not a big deal if I have to ride in the slow lane,” he said.
“I’ve been trying to do that all along, after I was stopped and ticketed a few months ago by traffic police for riding in the fast lane.”
He added he would swap his substandard helmet for a proper one.
“I do have a standard helmet at home, but I prefer to use this smaller one for practical reasons,” he said.
Another motorcyclist, Mursid, objected.
“Why should they put us in the same lane as buses? [Public transportation drivers] often drive carelessly. They drop and pick passengers anywhere they please. It’s very annoying.”
The slow lane for motorcycles is not a new concept, having long been in force on main thoroughfares like Jl. Sudirman. But in practice, many motorcyclists still ride in the fast lane and go unpunished.
City official Sutanto Soehodho said the ruling would be effective only if passengers also took part in the drive.
“Most buses pick up and drop off passengers in the middle of the street because the passengers want them to,” he said.
“The [passengers] should also be more disciplined by getting on and off at bus stops. It’s for their own safety and comfort.”