The Good Old Sidewalk as a Solution to Traffic in Indonesia

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According to Castrol Magnatec Stop-Start Index, Indonesia falls into the red zone(literally) for worst traffic. And, its capital, Jakarta, shoulders a big part of the responsibility.

  • The capital city of Indonesia ranks one of the worst in the world for traffic. 
  • In order to get more people walking instead of driving, the government is building the city into a place more hospitable for pedestrians.
  • In addition to creating a more inviting environment for walking, the government will have to tackle the issue that Indonesians aren’t big walkers to begin with. 

Walking could ease the problem in this bustling metropolis, but with debilitating traffic comes more smog, which makes it brutal for pedestrians. If you can even spot a pedestrian in the snarl of cars.

In an article on City Lab Laura Bliss, who personally visited the city, notes the lack of parks, sidewalks and crosswalks. The only narrow road shoulders “available” to walk are marred by tree roots and open sewer covers.

Walk sign
The familiar walk/don’t walk sign. Photo (c) Getty Images

A matter of life and limb

If someone dares to perambulate on the shoulder, they risk food carts, parked vehicles and aggressive drivers co-opting the shoulders for their own purposes. And, forget about crossing the street if you value your life. Motorcycles, taxis and tuk-tuks don’t recognize pedestrians (should) have the right of way.

Fortunately, the government has recognized the dire state of affairs and is taking steps to address it. In just the last year, seven kilometers of sidewalks in Central Jakarta have been repurposed for their original use. Now 32 to 39 feet wide, they have been modernized to include curb cuts and tactile pavingfor those visually impaired.

Additionally, four pedestrian bridges are in progress to safely shuttle pedestrians across a busy in highway. Moreover, these aren’t just utilitarian constructs, but also aesthetic pleasing. Plus, there’s also the new “MRT”subway.

Still, there’s another hurdle to overcome. Jakartans are a bit lazy. Bliss quotes Alfred Sitorus, the co-founder of the Pedestrian Coalition, as stating that “motorbikes are now the people’s choice” and that they will use motorized transportation to go as little as .2 miles.

Traffic jam at office hour in the morning at Jakarta main street. Photo (c) Getty Images


Walking beats any form of transportation with a true zero-emissions rating. Getting people to hotfoot it or mosey along, if they prefer, in Jakarta could make a big difference for the air quality and traffic. By making the city more hospitable to pedestrians, Jakarta has made a great investment for both its citizens and the planet. If the plan works, maybe more cities will put priority and focus on creating a better environment for people to choose to walk instead of ride.

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