Jakarta Is What Resiliency Looks Like


For the past several years, the city of Jakarta, Indonesia, has been on track for a major transport transformation. Like most other big cities, Jakarta has seen soaring growth in the past few decades, with migrants from all over the region drawn to the rapidly growing economy and modern life of the city. Unfortunately, Jakarta also followed the lead of most other cities in their infrastructure priorities: roads and bridges for cars only, despite the fact that the majority of Jakartans don’t
own cars. According to Greater Jakarta Commuter Statistics, less than 10 percent of Jakartans commuted by private car in 2019, with the much larger numbers traveling by motorcycle and transit. Nevertheless, the streets of Jakarta were soon packed with motorcycles and private cars, and paralyzing traffic all but ground the city to a halt.

Fortunately, the city of Jakarta has shown that it is willing and able to meet the moment. In the face of major COVID outbreaks and riots against a new labor policy, the city, led by Governor Anies Baswedan, is seeing the benefits of years of work with ITDP Indonesia.

Much has been made of cities’ major growth in cycling during the pandemic, and for good reason. Cycling is a fast, cheap, easily accessible option for city trips that enables the rider to avoid crowds, and adds zero pollution. As cities around the world rushed to add more bikes and more safe routes for cyclists, Jakarta had a head start, having already planned a 500 kilometer network of cycle lanes throughout the city. “Seeing the need to restrict the spread of COVID-19, we knew that Jakarta supports its citizens even further because we had the foundation laid out already,” says Faela Sufa, Southeast Asia Regional Director, “When the social restrictions were eased in June, we surveyed a major thoroughfare in the city center and saw that cycling had jumped by 1,000 percent from a year earlier. In other areas, it was still up by 500 percent or more. This has really shown to the city, and the people, the importance of cycling to keep the city moving, and that if we
make it possible and easier, people will choose to cycle.” ITDP Indonesia’s work over the last several years to raise the profile of cycling in Jakarta has paid off during COVID. This included hosting forum discussions with the public, cycling communities, and city officials that resulted in a trial of 63 kilometers of bicycle routes in 2019. The program convinced the city to start planning a 500 kilometer protected bicycle lane, currently projected to begin within the year. ITDP Indonesia is also conducting events to raise awareness about
cycling with a public discussion, a cycling tour, and cycling friendly school activities. ITDP Indonesia released two guides about cycling and a series of infographics, which are popular on social media.
The increasing need for cycling and walking during the pandemic prompted the Jakarta Provincial Government to push forward some much needed measures. Jakarta provided pop-up bike lanes in Jenderal Sudirman and M.H. Thamrin Street using temporary measures such as traffic cones. Due to increasing demand, an additional 12 kilometers of a pop-up bike lane were implemented, taking over about half of the car traffic lane. This lane is used only during morning and evening rush hours, but is also in place for longer periods on weekends. While this was an emergency response, the city backed it up with new policy. During the spring social restrictions, the city of Jakarta issued Governor Regulation No. 51 of 2020 Article 21 which states: “all road segments are prioritized for pedestrians and bicycle transport users as a means of daily mobility for accessible distances.” With the regulation, pop-up bike lane programs and providing bike parking became the main elements to accelerate the city’s vision for a bike-friendly city.

The changes on the streets would not have been possible without ITDP Indonesia’s on-the-ground partnerships and support from the local community. Together with Bike 2 Work Indonesia, ITDP launched the Sepeda Berbagi initiative, a program to collect and make available bicycles for anyone to use for free, which has been heavily used by essential workers during COVID. The model is similar to a bike share, with the idea of encouraging people to try cycling for the first time. In fact, the movement is now serving as support for Jakarta’s small, but growing bike-share system. Initially, only 115 bikes, from sharing operators, were available at 9 stations. The program has expanded quickly to 72 stations, most of which are located along 2 major streets and at transit hubs. While significant obstacles related to COVID-19 remain, like police opposition and pending municipal budget cuts, public support and political will continue to rise. In response, the Jakarta provincial government is now planning to make the pop-up bike lane permanent. The bike lane would be two meters wide with a single direction lane and a buffer zone of planter boxes. The design is already in the final phase and will start the construction phase in early 2021. This protected bike lane would be the first of many protected bike lanes in the new bike-friendly Jakarta.

In 2019, with ITDP’s support, the city of Jakarta achieved a major goal: one million riders per day on Transjakarta. This was a hard-fought win, achieved through a combination of service improvements, integration, and enforcement. The city started with a raft of expansions and improvements before hosting the Asian Games in 2018, and saw its ridership numbers climb as a result. Next, they focused on integration, by formalizing the major fleets of angkots, privately owned minibuses that are the major provider of transit service in the villages and neighborhoods throughout the city. Before integration, inefficient routes, delays, crashes, sexual harassment, and petty crimes were common occurrences, discouraging ridership, and leading people to avoid public transit. Jakarta also opened the first corridor of its new Metro and light rail systems, which are integrated with Transjakarta. This significantly expands the reach of the system and sets the stage for the type of extensive, multi-modal transit system befitting a city of Jakarta’s size.

Transjakarta went beyond route and fare integration and mandated changes in the angkot business model to improve reliability and customer service. Before this change, drivers were paid per passenger, which incentivized delays as they waited for buses to fill and dangerous speeds as they rushed from stop to stop. Now drivers receive salaries based on distance traveled, enabling them to keep to a set schedule and route, and follow traffic laws without risking a pay cut. They also have full access to the 13 corridors spanning over 200 kilometers of dedicated lanes. Significantly, city support and increased education of police officers have kept these lanes car-free.

As the world’s cities adjust to a new, temporary normal, Jakarta has particular incentives for wanting to build back better. With sea levels rising due to climate change, the island of Java, where Jakarta is located, is under siege. Before the pandemic, Jakarta was losing over $4 billion every year in productivity as a result of traffic, and air pollution became a major public health problem in this tropical city. Fortunately, the city has now shown that, even in the toughest of circumstances, it is committed to improving access and quality of life for its citizens. If Jakarta keeps moving forward, it has the potential to become a global best practice in transit and cycling, inspiring replication in cities throughout the region, and around the world.

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