The Governor of DKI Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, is an advocate for cyclists to use the capital’s main roads.
Anies encourages Jakartans to cycle as an alternative mode of transportation for the daily commute during the period of transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).
Healthwise, cycling helps to lower your blood pressure, increases muscle strength and flexibility, increases your energy, and lowers your stress levels. Cycling also creates safer and calmer roads. Even better, cycling also heals the planet. Having more vehicles off the road means greater chances of having lower air pollution levels. Choosing to take your bicycle to go to the nearest Indomaret or even get to work on Jalan Sudirman cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. According to Biofriendly Planet,
“cycling requires no gasoline, no antifreeze, and doesn’t need many of the other fluids vehicles need to operate. Therefore, no harmful vehicle emissions or smog are released into the air when a person is riding their bicycle.”
Research done by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Centre states, “transportation emits large amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, as 80 percent of the carbon monoxide in the atmosphere came from motorised vehicles that operate on gas and diesel. These sources also contribute 55 percent of the nitrogen oxide pollution in the air.” Hence, cycling not only creates zero pollution, but petroleum consumption also reduces.
Parking lots are a problem for the environment too, especially with the increasing number of motorised vehicles on the road, according to SF Gate. Jakartans usually have at least one car and/or one motorbike at home. “The asphalt, roadway tars, and other chemicals poured to make parking lots also release pollutants into the air and create heat islands that contribute to global warming,” notes SF Gate. Noise pollution and congestion lessen, so does the need for new parking lots as more green spaces can instead flourish when you hop on your bike. If you’re environmentally conscious and care about your ecological footprint, cycling reduces it.
A local biking community called Jakarta Sepeda Lipat (Jakseli or Jakarta Folding Bike) agrees that cycling contributes to Earth’s fresher air as well as significantly minimising air pollution and fossil fuel consumption when it becomes part of your routine.
More and more Jakartans have had the pleasure to cycle around the city since outdoor sports activities have once more been allowed. Haris Kurniawan represents the cycling community as their public relations officer; he reckons the COVID-19 pandemic has driven people to increase their bodies’ immunity to lower their chances of transmitting the virus. People got bored staying at home for too long, hence they are now looking for activities that are still allowed by the government whilst following health protocols. The public’s anxiety about using public transportation has also compelled the increasing number of people who prefer to use bicycles as a mode of transportation. “Jakseli is still trying to understand whether caring for the environment is one of the reasons for many people to ride a bicycle, or if they’re simply following the hype of cycling nowadays,” Haris mused. “We petition members to always bring their own tumbler or reusable water bottles to reduce the use of disposable plastics like bottled water,” he added.
Jakseli often promotes the idea that cycling is a lifestyle, not just a form of exercise. Their social media account (@jakartasepedalipat) is full of encouraging posts to gather cyclists and non-cyclists to do activities together at a public space to be seen by many people. “The more people who see, the more people would want to cycle, therefore the bike will become a lifestyle and a social indicator,” said Haris.
Founded in September 2017 in Tangerang’s Godzilla enclosure, the community began to help single riders make biking friends in Jakarta and surrounding areas, noticing the number of single rider folding bike users and the lack of folding bike communities in Jakarta. Jakseli’s members are primarily those who possess folding bikes and the numbers keep on rising. To date, there are no expat members; however, Jakseli welcomes expats who want to join. They usually have a riding agenda around Jakarta on Sunday morning with a gathering point in front of FX Senayan, and Wednesday night in the Kendal tunnel and front of the HI roundabout police post. Gatherings in Bogor, Bandung, and Yogyakarta have also been done, even conducting the Jakseli Tour De Jogja 2019.
Cycling shouldn’t be deemed as just hype since it can form new friendships. Haris suggested that anyone keen to cycle on Jakarta’s busy roads should always use their helmets and switch on their rear lights.
Second, they should always obey traffic rules and not act arrogantly on the road, such as skipping a red light. Use the bike lanes or try cycling on the leftmost lane when there aren’t any specifically designated lanes to prevent endangering other road users. “Jakseli always applies the principle of sharing the road because road users are not just cyclists,” Haris said.
Third, try to cycle with other people – unless you’re forced to ride alone to the office or school, choose a busy lane by other road users. And finally, don’t take out or play with your phone while you’re cycling. Avoid placing mobile phones on the handlebar bracket or any part of the bike that can invite street crime, Haris advised.
Besides cycling, a longboard can get you to places without harming the environment. Dita Novita Maharani, a longboarding enthusiast in Jakarta, has been using her longboard more now than before the pandemic, though she’s still limiting herself to around her housing complex, like heading to food stalls, the local vegetable seller, and taking her dogs on walks. “I really want to use my longboard as a mode of transportation on the main roads because, aside from making my body healthy, longboarding is also environmentally friendly. Maybe someday, if the streets of Jakarta become friendlier for longboarding, more people will use one as an alternative mode of transportation,” she said.
Dita reckons to cruise on a longboard can also make people more sensitive to their surrounding environment, for example, the importance of maintaining environmental cleanliness by not littering and maintaining trees as protection from the sun. Besides, fuel isn’t consumed thus, again, reducing air pollution. “During the Global Climate Strike in 2019, some friends from the longboard community were also motivated to support this activity by wearing t-shirts bearing environmental preservation messages while gliding on their longboards and posting them on social media,” she said.
Dita initially liked to surf after taking a surfing class with an Indonesian surfer named Gemala Hanafiah at Pelabuhan Ratu in 2016. There were days where she longed to surf but living in Jakarta hindered her wish. To sate the need, she learned to longboard with the friends she met during her surf lesson. Longboarding is similar to surfing – the only difference is that you’re “surfing” on concrete waves. She finally bought her first board, a surfskate, which is included in the longboard category but is more suitable for carving manoeuvres.
“Longboarding is a fun hobby for me because it gives the sensation of feeling free as the wind blows. When I feel bored or stuck doing a job, sometimes I glide for a while to clear my mind again,” said Dita. As a sport, longboarding trains the core muscles, tightens the body, and trains balance, besides of course breathing and stamina. As with any sport, longboarding helps maintain mental health too, as peace is derived from doing outdoor activities and being close to nature.
Always make sure to be safe at skate parks, sports arenas, and non-crowded places by wearing protective gear. If you feel alone, meet like-minded people and you’ll feel more relaxed cruising on the road by joining a longboard community like Dita – she joined the Longboard Girls Crew Indonesia (LGCI) community in 2019, routinely practising and playing at Semanggi’s interchange roads during Car Free Day Sundays with the JKT CFD Longboard community. LGCI hold events and competitions like “Girls Can Ride” to celebrate World Women’s Day on March 8, 2020, simultaneously held in Jakarta, Bali, and Yogyakarta.
Think about it; cycling and longboarding have health, environmental, economic, and societal benefits besides considered as mere hobbies.