Saturday, September 22, 2007

My own stupid analysis: Jakarta's Car Free Day

Sutiyoso's car free day is stupid. And it is bad for the environment, too.

So, the outgoing Jakarta's governor Sutiyoso who seems to think he is an environmentalist, again endorses a silly event that takes place today (Saturday). It is called Jakarta Car Free Day; it seems to be proposed by some environmental groups. The policy is to ban cars in Jalan Sudirman and Jalan Thamrin, the two most important streets in the heart of metro Jakarta. The idea is to be friendly to the environment. The event, I heard, is to be repeated every month. And in every event, they will hold activities like happy biking or things like that. They said this is in solidarity with the "same global movement", World Car Free Day.

I bet in most countries/cities that adopt this event the traffic management and public transportation facility is better than Jakarta. If not, things can be very nasty.

Just like Jakarta today. As of now, I have no idea what is going on in Thamrin and Sudirman, but Gatot Subroto, Slipi, Casablanca, and many other streets in the neighborhood are in total jam. I just came back from Senayan to Shangri-La and it took me one hour travel time. This is probably 'normal' in Jakarta's weekdays. But not in Saturday.

It turns out, people do not halt their activities because of the car-free day (who wants?). They just try to find ways around Sudirman and Thamrin to get to their destination or come back home. I think the numbers of cars not used in respect to the car-free day is negligible, compared to cars trying to make detours around the two main streets.

As I said, this resulted in annoying and tiring traffic jam in almost all streets adjacent to Sudirman and Thamrin. Furthermore -- and let me ask this to the environmentalists who campaign for this event -- which one pollutes more: a heavy traffic jam where cars run 3 kms/hour around car-free (but not bus-free) Sudirman/Thamrin or usual Saturdays in Jakarta when traffic is usually not as bad as weekdays?

Really, even the greens need to understand the power of incentives.


  1. And the irony was -- Sutiyoso went to the celebration at Bundaran HI. Riding his car. Aided with 2 big mototbikes. So much for 'care free day'?

    A similar irony with Al Gore-led global warning concert: you call for reduction of energy. But how much electricity did it consume to hold a big concert? Not to mention the energy used to transport the equipments, rock stars (some of them flew their own private jet!), crews...

  2. i have heard of incentive :-) but i do believe the use of incentive tools needs public understanding for public awareness then public participation. and i think the objective of car free day and live earth (al gore's concert) was to initiate that, to educate public.

    don't get me wrong, i am totally NOT in favor of car free day or live earth. but: the radio (and other media) all day yesterday did campaign for better air quality in jakarta (and advise not to use thamrin-sudirman before-hand); the use of rock star was to communicate especially knowing how fans will do what ever the rockstar say and imagine the publicity; live-earth bought carbon offset credit to zero off their emission...

  3. ell, isn't it sad? a chaos is needed to spread awareness? and those rock-star fans... do they really do that? i.e. doing whatever the rock star says? that's even sadder...

  4. it could be worst. it could've happen on a monday :-)

  5. it would've been better to name it public transport day. would it kill anybody to take public transport for a day? yes bad public transport i know--i actually take them--but unless people make the lifestyle change(whether it's driving less, take public transport, living closer to the office etc) the alternative is increased congestions, pollution. just stay home to avoid the chaos; it's not like traffic congestion isn't a daily thing, and comes w/ rain, flooding, soccer match, saturday night, hearse, etc. chaos once a month to incite a lifestyle change sounds trivial to me. even that's not enough, i pose for taxes on private vehicles and motorcycles in addition.