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Jakarta Post

Jakartans turn to bicycles to commute in ‘new normal’

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, June 14, 2020   /   05:31 pm
Jakartans turn to bicycles to commute in ‘new normal’ Cyclists line up to enter the Senayan sports complex in Jakarta on June 6. JP/Seto Wardhana (JP/Seto Wardhana)

As offices, shops and public facilities in the capital reopen amid the loosening of social restrictions that had been enacted to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Jakartans are flocking to bicycles to commute and for exercise.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) – a global NGO that promotes sustainable transportation and urban development – recorded a tenfold increase in the number of cyclists along Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta last Thursday.

"Based on ITDP Indonesia’s observations on June 11, the number of cyclists has increased by 1,000 percent on Jl. Sudirman between 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on a weekday compared to the data recorded last year on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6," ITDP Indonesia spokesperson Fani Rachmita said in a written statement on Sunday. 

The increased bicycle use has also led the Jakarta administration to set up miles of pop-up bike lanes along Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta on Sunday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"The car-free day is still halted this week. However, residents are allowed to use the left side of Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin for cycling," Jakarta Transportation Agency head Syafrin Liputo said in a written statement on Saturday. “Personnel from the Jakarta Transportation Agency and the Jakarta Public Order Agency will be deployed along the [two roads] to ensure that everyone follows health protocol.”

The move was praised by the ITDP, Bike to Work Indonesia (B2W Indonesia) and Jakarta Transportation Discussion Forum (FDTJ).

"The pop-up bike lane ideally should reach all public mass transportation routes, especially the 13 corridors of the Transjakarta [bus network]," Fani added.

Bicycle use had already seen an increase before restrictions were eased, with some urbanites turning to cycling to cope with mental health issues arising from being forced to stay at home for weeks on end.

The city administration initially planned to expand the bike lane network to 63 km this year out of the planned 500 km throughout the city. However, this year's program is likely to be scrapped, as Jakarta has altered the city budget in response to COVID-19.