The Jakarta Post
Jakarta, critics say, is no friend to pedestrians. In 2017, The New York Times dubbed it “the city where nobody wants to walk”.
However, the Big Durian has been working— regardless of its pace— to change that stigma by revamping its sidewalks and pedestrian bridges.
While many believe it is still lagging far behind other cities in Southeast Asia, or even Surabaya in East Java, the nation’s second-largest city, Jakarta has made strides in catering to the city’s pedestrians— though not everyone is amused.
In recent days, some Jakartans have shown their excitement over the new “Instagrammable” pedestrian bridges along Jl. Sudirman in South Jakarta, while others are complaining about the old bridges that are either dangerously rickety or ridiculously —or terrifyingly— end in the middle of the road.
The newly renovated bridges are in Dukuh Atas, in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters (Polda), at the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex and the Senayan traffic circle. Of the four bridges, only the Dukuh Atas bridge has been fully completed. But social media users have already posted pictures of them online, drawing positive comments from other netizens.
Workers put the finishing touches on the Transjakarta Dukuh Atas footbridge bearing a hexagonal design on Thursday, December 20.2018. Replacing an older one, the new bridge helps pedestrians safely cross Jl. Sudirman. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
On a photo of the Dukuh Atas bridge shared by Instagram account @jktinfo, netizens flooded the comment section with compliments and gratitude to the city administration for the revamp. The photo, which was posted on Jan. 4, has received over 68,000 likes and more than 1,500 comments.
The bridge’s exterior is decorated with hexagons that are white and grey during the day but light up with a yellow glow at night.
“Soon, there’ll be bunch of youngsters hanging out and taking photos there. Haha,” @ejunsss commented underneath the post.
“If only all pedestrian bridges were this pretty, passersby would feel safe,” said @octaviyaniptr.
On Jan. 8, @jktinfo posted a photo of the revamped pedestrian bridge near the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex. The photo received more than 100,000 likes and 1,700 comments.
“Is this really in Jakarta?” @rizhan08 commented in disbelief.
The Jakarta Bina Marga official Twitter account, @BinaMargaDKI, was the first to post pictures of the bridge at the Senayan traffic circle, which now has black railings and is decorated with silver poles, wooden tiles and yellow lighting.
Twitter user @Mr_i_rwansyah12 commented on the post: “Like a passage of time... which brings us from darkness to happiness.”
The city administration has openly said it wanted to make pedestrian bridges attractive for so-called selfie hunters. In December, it announced plans to make them Instagrammable – or worthy of being posted onto Instagram.
“We’ll make all pedestrian bridges in the city Instagrammable so that people will feel comfortable,” said Bina Marga maintenance division head Hans Mahendra as quoted by antaranews.com.
Ridiculously dangerous bridges
But not everyone is happy with the shiny, new bridges.
Instagram user @rhidopratama77 said: “What a waste of money. Big cities in the world don’t have these kind of bridges. [The administration] should have taken care of messy cables on sidewalks instead.”
The revitalization project cost the city administration Rp 56 billion (US$3.8 million).
Others wonder if the new bridges are safe. They called on the city to install CCTV cameras to ensure security, equip them with additional facilities for people with disabilities and prevent street vendors from selling their wares.
Motorists pass beneath a revamped footbridge in Senayan, South Jakarta, on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. The footbridge is one of three across Jl. Sudirman that are being revitalized by the Jakarta administration in a project that cost Rp 56 billion (US$3.8 million). (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
The Senayan traffic circle, Polda and Gelora Bung Karno bridges were designed to be disabled-friendly, Pris Febrian Adris, who supervised the renovation projects said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.
The bridges will have an elevator on each that can carry around 15 people as well as people in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities. They will also have guiding blocks.
Pris said the Senayan traffic circle bridge will open on Jan. 15 but its elevators could only be installed in May.
“We are procuring the elevators from China. Due to Lunar New Year celebrations, they promised to deliver the elevators in April.”
Despite the progress, Jakarta is still no heaven for most pedestrians in the city, which has 301 pedestrian bridges. Many of them are so run down that many believe jaywalking would actually be safer.
Schoolchildren come down a bridge in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta. The bridge now ends in the middle of the road since extra lanes were added. (The Jakarta Post/Wendra Ajistyatama )
People have complained that the Jembatan Gantung pedestrian bridge in West Jakarta was partly dismantled in October last year.
Instagram user @nenglissah20 claimed that the Dewa Ruci pedestrian bridge in Cilincing, North Jakarta, was unusable, forcing people to jaywalk on a road frequently passed by container trucks.
In recent days, local media have reported that pedestrian bridges on Jl. Arjuna Selatan in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, and Jl. Dewi Sartika, East Jakarta, end in the middle of the road because of a road widening project.
The one on Jl. Dewi Sartika is hardly usable. Most of its iron railings are rusty and many of them are loose or even detached from the bridge.
Many cables entangled with the bridge pose threats to passersby if a short circuit occurs. To make matter worse, a small shop occupies one of its stairs.
“Even though I’m a man, I’m honestly afraid to use the bridge at night. A street vendor occupies the stairs and it’s dark there. I’d rather cross the road than use it, even though it’s dangerous,” one resident, Darma, told kompas.com.