Nordic ambassadors campaigning to free bicycle lanes in Jakarta

Among hundreds of cyclists campaigning last Friday against the occupation of bicycle lanes by motor vehicles was both the Norwegian and the Danish Ambassadors.


“In Denmark, people prefer riding bicycles to sitting in a car,” the Norwegian Ambassador Stig Traavik told. “Productive, educated people and the rich choose cycling.”


His Danish counterpart Martin Bille Herman said that cycling had not only become a subsidiary form of transportation in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, it had also become a form of lifestyle.


“Taking Back Bicycle Paths” as the event was named was conducted by the “Bike to Work” (B2W) cycling community. When Jakarta inaugurated its first bike lane May last year, the community’s chairman Toto Sugito warned against a half-hearted initiative.


“We hope this bike lane will not be just another [failed initiative], but will be strictly enforced for cyclists. We need stronger law enforcement, otherwise the lane will only be used as parking spots and a lane for motorcyclists,” Toto told The Jakarta Post then.


His prediction showed to be right. Only hours after the lane was opened three-wheeled motorized pedicabs (bajaj) began to occupy the lane as a parking spot.


Since then there has been a shift of Governor in Jakarta, and B2W hopes the new administration will “invite” Jakartans to shift from motor vehicles to cycling by constructing more bike paths.


Toto told at the campaign, that he has spoken with Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo about the integrated bicycle path master plan that B2W created with the transportation Agency in 2009.


“The line will integrate with bus and train stations,” Toto said. “The governor saw this could be implemented and he supported it.”


While the “Taking Back Bicycle Paths” went on, “illegal path-users”, like motorcyclists and Metromini bus drivers, only used their designated roads on Jl. Kolonel Sugiono and Toto promised that “B2W’ will conduct more campaigns to reduce the number of motor vehicles at the bike lanes.


Also the administration promised to actually do something to implement the law. East Jakarta Transportation Agency head Mirza Aryadi Soelarso said he would deploy officials to deter motor vehicles from the lanes.


According to Chairman Toto Sugito, the “B2W’ community has more than 1 million registered members in 160 Indonesian cities, an increase from just 150 members in 2004.

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