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Jakartans can’t be turned into pedestrians, so why try?

November 21, 2017

Tracy Duvall

A few months ago, the New YorkTimes published a pretty good article on why people in Jakarta walk so little. Since I studied this and related questions in-depth from 2010 to 2012, I have some quibbles and additions, but all in all I recommend it.

The article includes quotes from a pro-pedestrian activist. However, in a presentation of my research, I labeled the promotion of pedestrianism in Jakarta a “lost cause.”

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Human roadblocks should prompt a detour

November 21, 2017

Tracy Duvall

In a recent op-ed article in the Guardian, Andrew Gilligan draws a political lesson from his tenure as cycling commissioner in London. It’s worth a full read. Gilligan points out that proposals to expand bicycling infrastructure – lanes and paths – have great popular support in Britain but often aren’t put into action. He blames politicians for succumbing to opposition by a vocal minority or for simply lacking initiative.

How might cycling advocates overcome roadblocks to democratically supported improvements?

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Motorcycles regulated too?

September 28, 2015

A recent article in the New York Times reports on welcome progress against automotive emissions and on the main reason – health – that this is so important. Hopefully, the emissions standards “on new vehicles” will apply to motorcycles as well. Motorcycles tend to emit considerably more pollution than cars, except for greenhouse gases, and there are many, many more motorcycles than cars in Jakarta.

The news article focuses on the use of masks. Testing indicates that cotton handkerchiefs, or bandannas, eliminate only 28 percent of fine particles, assuming a tight fit. This is better than nothing but quite low compared to an 80 percent reduction for surgical masks and above 90 percent for some others. I wore the original Totobobo mask while bicycling in Jakarta; people stared at me more than usual, but it worked great for reducing pollution. These days I’m road-testing three other brands in Manila.

Just build bike paths? It worked in Sevilla, se dice

February 14, 2015
Bike path at the University of Indonesia. Wrong kind of bike.

Bike path at the University of Indonesia. Wrong kind of bike, unfortunately.

Another entry in the “if you build it, they will come” debate – As a previous post noted, a large, careful, and well-funded program in Britain found that simply building bike paths wasn’t enough to get large numbers of people to use them. Social marketing and perhaps other incentives were needed. My students and I found a similar pattern in Indonesia. Yet a recent article in the Guardian claims the contrary for Sevilla. (Or Seville, if you’re one of those.) Read more…

Risky methods to advance good plans

October 31, 2012

The key to relatively speedy, large-scale changes in transportation behavior is government action. So it’s welcome to see a couple of recent news items from the Jakarta Post. One says that Depok will require that businesses along a newly widened stretch of Jalan Margonda provide ample space for parking and, more positively, sidewalks. The other reports on the efforts of Jakarta’s new governor to help fund new, cleaner buses for the major minibus operators, Kopaja and Metromini.

The goals of both these plans are laudable. But will they be successful? And, if not, why not?

In Depok, I have some concerns. Read more…

Handy British reports on promoting change

September 28, 2012

The British government has produced a couple of handy documents for people trying to promote cleaner forms of transportation. Both reports focus on actions that governments should take, but, with a little imagination, NGOs and activists could easily translate their lessons into appropriate strategies.

The first is a report by the Science and Technology committee of the House of Lords. It fairly discusses the current state of research on changing people’s behavior. One of this document’s strengths is that it doesn’t limit itself to consideration of “nudges,” such as might result from social marketing. The committee notes that, for example, sometimes restrictive policies are more effective and desirable. Much of the latter part of the text discusses minutiae of the UK’s policy-making process, so most readers would want to skip it.

The second report, Making a Cycling Town, focuses on promoting cycling for transportation, although most of its lessons would apply to promoting any number of other practices. Read more…

Do Car Free Days Get Cyclists to Commute?

April 5, 2012

Car Free Days (CFD) are popular in Jakarta. (They’re called Hari Bebas Kendaraan Bermotor, or HBKB, in Indonesian.) Every Sunday morning at least one major street has several or all of its lanes reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists. The biggest such event occurs twice a month along Jalan Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin. While it seems undeniable that CFDs provide a rare chance for recreation in a wide open space, many believe that CFDs also reduce pollution in the short and long term, in the latter case by promoting cycling as a form of transportation – not only as recreation.

So I’ve tried to assess this. The short (and tentative) conclusion is that these events might help to maintain the few cyclists who currently commute, and perhaps they result in a slow accretion of commuters, but they do not seem to inspire significant numbers to try commuting for the first time. Read more…

Formulir wawancara anggota B2W

April 3, 2012

Om/Tante yth: Jika Anda anggota Bike2Work di Jabodetabek, tolong membantu penelitian ini dengan melengkapi formulir ini – atau setidaknya bagiannya.

Read more…

Ayo! Cycling as Transportation in Jakarta

March 29, 2012

Many Jakartans ride bicycles for pleasure on Sundays and other low-traffic times. Multitudes of others use bicycles as their business location, perhaps selling tea in parks. But have you ever considered riding a bike here for basic transportation, instead of taking a car? Lots of people do this, and I’m one of them. From Menteng, I ride to the malls, parks, the Embassy, a Busway stop, and the American Club area.


The reasons for cycling here are the same as elsewhere: it’s pollution-free, it’s good exercise, it’s a great way to feel a closer connection to your surroundings. I also bike as part of my research.


To ride in Jakarta, I recommend the same equipment as anywhere else: a helmet, a blinking rear light, a lock, a route, and … a bike, dong. Read more…

Lecture notes on transportation in Jakarta

February 23, 2012

Recently I gave a public lecture at the University of Indonesia. I summarized selected aspects of my ongoing research on transportation, individual and institutional behavior change, and air pollution in Jabodetabek, aka Greater Jakarta. This post provides links to the slideshow from that presentation, in PDF format.

I hope that the gist is clear. If not, please use the form below to ask for more information. Read more…