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Jakarta Post

Safety study needed before allowing motorcycles on toll roads: Transportation Ministry

  • Riza Roidila Mufti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, February 1, 2019   /   12:58 pm
Safety study needed before allowing motorcycles on toll roads: Transportation Ministry The Surabaya-Madura National Bridge (Suramadu Bridge) is Indonesia's longest bridge. It stretches 5,438 meters across the Sunda Strait that connects Java and Madura. (Shutterstock/File)

Is it feasible for motorcyclists to use toll roads across the country, like on the Bali Mandara and Suramadu, East Java, as suggested by a House of Representatives lawmaker recently? An official from the Transportation Ministry said it was not that simple.

Budi Setyadi, director general of land transportation at the Transportation Ministry, said such an idea could not be taken lightly as it would need a careful understanding of toll road regulations and further safety assessments. 

Budi said everyone should comprehend Government Regulation No. 15/2005 on toll roads. Article 38 of the regulation stipulates that toll roads are meant for vehicles with four wheels or more.

However, when the Suramadu bridge that connects Surabaya and Madura in East Java, and the Bali Mandara toll road in Bali were developed to accommodate two-wheel vehicles, the government changed its policy through Government Regulation No. 44/2009. 

An article in the 2009 regulation says toll roads can be equipped with special lanes for two-wheeled vehicles, in which the lanes are separated from roads that are meant for four-wheeled vehicles or more.

Based on that article, Budi said motorcycles could indeed use toll roads, but only the ones with the same specifications as the Suramadu or Bali Mandara. 

As for toll roads nationwide, the government would need to discuss the proposal first based on safety.

“As we know, many toll roads in Indonesia are highways and away from residential areas, thus there will be strong and high-speed winds,”  said Budi, pointing out that it would pose threats to the safety of motorcyclists. 

Budi said many toll roads were also constructed for long distance journeys and vehicles travel at high speeds, while motorcycles could not travel at such speeds.

Should there be toll roads with motorcycle lanes, they might be only for short distance city toll roads, not national or cross-provincial ones, he said. The Suramadu, he said, was only 3 kilometers in length, while the Bali Mandara was 12 km long. 

Recently, House lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo sparked a public discussion after suggesting that toll roads should not be exclusive for cars and trucks as the majority of Indonesians used motorcycles as their main transportation mode.

Public opinion is divided on that issue as Bambang said the law allowed for such an idea, referring to the 2009 government regulation that replaced the 2005 regulation. 

“Motorcyclists have the same rights as motorists as both are Indonesian citizens who pay taxes. So, why don’t we allow motorcyclists to enjoy the benefits of infrastructure development?” he said.

Meanwhile, Indonesia Consumers Foundation chairman Tulus Abadi firmly rejected Bambang’s idea, saying that allowing motorcyclists to use toll roads was “misguided”. 

“This idea is counterintuitive to safety, which is the most important factor in transportation,” he said. “Whatever the formulation is, allowing motorcycles to use toll roads is similar to sacrificing the life of the drivers.”

He said riding motorcycles on toll roads was very dangerous considering wind speeds and the weight of the two-wheeler that was very light compared to vehicles with more wheels. 

Tulus said authorities should understand the concept of safety, citing data that showed 71 percent of the 31,000 people who died on the road were motorcyclists.

“This means allowing motorcycles to use toll roads is a red carpet to increase the number of road accidents involving motorcyclists,” he said. 

The number of traffic accidents nationwide has fluctuated in recent years. Statistics Indonesia recorded 103,228 road accidents in 2017, a decline from the 106,644 accidents recorded in 2016. Meanwhile, 98,970 road accidents were recorded in 2015, an increase from 95,906 in 2014.