Monday, January 08, 2007

Bikers unhappy with road restrictions, peak hour ban

Monday, January 08, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Motorcyclists are opposed to the decision to limit them to the left lanes of designated streets, with more plans to ban motorcycles from main roads during peak hours ahead.

"The decision won't work if there is no special lane for motorcyclists. Clearly, bikers are not the only problem; buses and bajaj, which usually stop wherever they like and sometimes without any warning, also contribute to the chaotic traffic," Suharto, a courier for a travel agent in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Muslim, who works at an advertising firm in Warung Buncit, South Jakarta, said that many of his clients' offices were located along the city's main thoroughfares.

"It's easier to get to my clients with my motorcycle. Would there be alternative route for motorcyclists?"

Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) chairman Bambang Susantono said that any policies to limit the number of motorcycles in the city should be accompanied by an improvement of public transportation.

"The basic idea is to provide a specific lane for motorcyclists. In theory, a moving motorcycle will take as much space as a car if the lanes are not clearly separated," he explained.

"The more special lanes that are provided, the better the traffic will flow. There might be traffic, but it will still be moving."

Besides driver behavior, he said, an imbalance between the number of vehicles and the availability of infrastructure was also one of the main roots of traffic jams. MTI says the growth in the number of vehicles in the city is 10 to 12 percent a year, while road expansion is only 2 to 3 percent a year.

Therefore, Bambang said, every public transportation policy must classify different kinds of vehicles according to their function and other factors, in order to reduce traffic jams and traffic accidents.

"Basically, motorcycles are not for long distance traveling. In theory, there are backbone, collector and feeder vehicles. The backbone vehicles, such as busway buses, commuter trains and subway cars, are for long distance; the collector vehicles, such as minibuses, are for middle distance; and the feeder vehicles such as motorcycles, are for short distance," he explained.

He said Jakarta could learn from countries in East Asia that faced the same problem of an imbalance between the number of motorcycles and street space.

In Taiwan, he said, the government provided special lanes and special parking lots for motorcyclists, and also imposed a heavy tax on motorcycles.

Towns in mainland China have developed another approach to the problem, banning motorcycles from main roads at peak hours, while providing good public transportation.

Bambang said that if the government really wanted to address the problem, the busway project and the rejuvenation of the railways, which would provide good and affordable transportation, must be finished in two or three years. (02)

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