Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo says there are not enough cyclists in the city to warrant the creation of bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares, drawing the ire of a cycling advocate and transportation expert.
In a statement on Sunday quoted on Beritajakarta.com, the administration’s official news portal, Fauzi said the growing number of cyclists still made up a negligible proportion of the city’s population.
“If there are 100,000 cyclists out of a population of 9.6 million residents, that’s not very many,” he said.
“Bike lanes must be built after careful calculations. It’s not good to develop something in a rush.”
However, he agreed with the building of a number of short bicycle lanes to encourage more people to cycle.
Also on Sunday, South Jakarta Mayor Syahrul Effendi said that a 1.5-kilometer-long bicycle lane would be created in the middle of this year, running from Ayodya Park in the Barito area of Kebayoran Baru to Blok M.
“The lane will pass through residential areas. Building it there won’t disrupt the flow of traffic,” he said.
However, Toto Sugito, chairm an of Jakarta’s Bike to Work (B2W) cycling community, said the administration lacked the political will to make the city friendlier for those not using motor vehicles.
He said that in 2009, B2W and the Jakarta Green Map community had submitted a master plan for a bike lane network to the governor, upon request from the Jakarta Transportation Office.
“We presented it to the governor and he said he supported the plan,” Toto said.
“But it still hasn’t been realized yet, even though the 2009 Law on Traffic and Public Transportation stipulates that public roads must have bicycle lanes.”
He also said Fauzi should build the lanes to encourage people to take up biking, rather than wait for the numbers to increase before making the move.
“Look at our community: even without bike lanes, B2W has 40,000 members nationwide,” he said. “But of course it’s insignificant compared to the total population.”
Darmaningtyas, executive director of the nongovernmental Institute of Transportation Studies, also argued that Fauzi’s logic for not wanting to build bike lanes was flawed.
“Build bicycle lanes first, then more people will use their bikes,” he said.
“Without special lanes, who would want to cycle in the hostile conditions we have today?”
He said there were no strong arguments against such lanes.
“Bicycle lanes need less space and simpler construction than roads,” Darmaningtyas said.
“They’re also more efficient because you can have more cyclists in a given area of bike lane than motorists in the same area of road space.”
Toto agreed that commuters needed to make the shift away from private motor vehicles to other more sustainable means of transportation.
“Public transport must be improved, the needs of cyclists and pedestrians must be facilitated and non-motor vehicles and mass public transportation must be integrated,” he said.
“Maybe it’s because motor vehicles can be taxed that the government is reluctant to reduce their numbers.”