Tue, 03 Aug 2021

Feature: Jakartans hope for bicycle revolution

13 Jun 2021, 02:05 GMT+10

JAKARTA, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Budi Susanto has been riding a bike to go to work in central Jakarta for the past few months. Before that, he had driven either a motorcycle or a car to commute, just like most of the residents in the Indonesian capital.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country last year, the 46-year-old man started to cycle around the capital regularly in order to stay active and healthy, release stress, and protect himself from getting infected.

"This COVID-19 pandemic situation has made me understand more about the importance of staying in good health and good mood," Susanto, who works as an accountant for a private company, told Xinhua recently.

Susanto is one of those living in Jakarta, with a population of over 10 million, who are transitioning from motor vehicles to bicycles during the pandemic.

The father of two boys said some of his colleagues and friends have been influenced by his cycling lifestyle. Sometimes they cycle together around the city on weekends.

The Jakarta administration is planning to add more special bike lanes across the city after having designated over 60 km amid the pandemic cycling trend. The plan is to make city streets safe and accessible for everyone.

Recently, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said that he planned to create 500 km of bike lanes which he thought are an ideal length of bike tracks in the city.

The governor has also initiated the construction of a bicycle monument that costs 800 million Indonesian rupiahs (56,385 U.S. dollars) in the city's main thoroughfare.

Baswedan has also called on companies to give incentives to their employees cycling to work. The incentives, he said, could be in the form of subsidized insurance premiums or additional facilities for cyclists.

"We also require buildings, including shops, to prepare 10 percent of their parking lots for bicycles. So anyone who comes by bike can park," he said.

Susanto applauded those plans, which he believed would encourage more people to cycle and help reduce air pollution in the city.

Likewise, he hoped that the city administration would also provide other facilities and conveniences for cyclists, including more secure bicycle parking racks and shower facilities for cyclists before they enter their offices.

Another cyclist Dennis Koh is concerned that cycling in Jakarta is still far from being safe although the city administration has developed special bike lanes.

One Friday evening last month, Koh was trying out his new bicycle, riding from his office in central Jakarta to his house in south Jakarta through a bike lane on the main thoroughfare, when a man riding a motorcycle carrying a woman suddenly hit him from behind.

"I fell down and got injured. They were riding on the bike lane to avoid the traffic. This isn't the first time I saw such thing happening," Koh said.

The 26-year-old man expressed his hope that the authorities would persistently take stern measures against those violating bike lane rules.

"We, Jakartans, should create a bicycle revolution as more people are cycling for sports, leisure and so on," he added.

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