Hundreds of cyclists participated in an event they call “Taking Back Bicycle Paths”, campaigning against the occupation of bicycle lanes by motor vehicles, at the East Flood Canal bike path in East Jakarta on Friday.
Parents and their children were seen smiling broadly, happy to participate in the event that was conducted by the Bike to Work cycling community, which started at around 6:40 a.m.
In the event, Bike to Work chairman Toto Sugito urged the city administration to construct more bike paths to “invite” Jakartans to shift from motor vehicles to cycling and help counter the problem of traffic congestion.
“Unlike the previous administration, we urge the current governor to construct the paths first,” Toto said during the event. “Why do we go to wedding parties? Because the host invites us, right? The same applies here, the city should invite the citizens [to cycle] by constructing the paths.”
Toto criticized former governor Fauzi Bowo, who said that he would only construct more bicycle paths in the city, even those parallel to the city’s main roads, if the number of cyclists increased to a certain level.
Toto said that he had spoken to the current Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo about an integrated bicycle path master plan that the community had created with the Transportation Agency in 2009.
“The line will integrate with bus and train stations,” he said. “The governor saw this could be implemented and he supported it.”
He said more campaigns would be conducted because the number of motor vehicles entering city bike lanes was still high.
Among the campaign participants were Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia Stig Traavik and Denmark Ambassador to Indonesia Martin Bille Hermann. The two foreign dignitaries expressed their appreciation and told other cyclists how riding bicycles resulted in many positive effects, especially for urban citizens.
“In Denmark, people prefer riding bicycles to sitting in a car,” Traavik said. “Productive, educated people and the rich would choose cycling.”
Echoing Traavik, Hermann said that cycling had not only become a subsidiary form of transportation in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, it had also become a form of lifestyle. He said that the culture of cycling had started some 20 years ago in his country.
According to Toto, the community alone now has more than 1 million registered members in 160 Indonesian cities, with around 30 percent active members. He said that Bike to Work members numbered only 150 in 2004.
The event made all “illegal path-users”, like motorcyclists and Metromini bus drivers only use their designated roads on Jl. Kolonel Sugiono.
To implement the law, East Jakarta Transportation Agency head Mirza Aryadi Soelarso said he would deploy officials to deter motor vehicles from the lanes. (fzm)