Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jakarta's Car Free Day

Jakarta is a notoriously traffic-laden city.  The major streets are total gridlock most of the time, even on weekends.  For example, last night (Saturday) we took a cab to one of the major malls, Grand Indonesia, to grab dinner and catch a viewing of the Muppet movie (which just came out here, so I am a little late to chime in, but it was really cute. Go see it!), and although it's only 6.1 km away from our apartment (3.7ish miles), it took us about an hour to get there due to the horrendous traffic on the major road, Jalan Sudirman.  
Ben and Erin biking out of our neighborhood, past the place where we do yoga.
Tim, cruising down Jalan Sudirman.
However, every Sunday morning Jakarta has a great event: Car Free Day.  Although it doesn't really last the whole day, at least for several hours in the morning, no cars, buses or motorbikes are allowed on Jalan Sudirman, so the huge 6-8 lane road is open for bikers, walkers, joggers and rollerbladers.  It's pretty awesome...  

This Sunday morning we got up early and took our bikes out for a spin, riding all the way from our apartment, past Grand Indonesia Mall to Monas, which is Indonesia's national monument/obligatory phallic symbol (see also, Washington Monument).  

Monas on Car Free Day
Meg and Tim marvel at Monas.
The road was packed, but with thousands of people cruising on all varieties of non-motorized vehicles...  lots of colorful fixies, Cali-style low riders, vintage bikes, a couple double-decker bikes, trick bikes, tricycles...  the whole lot.  There were also large groups of people walking in matching outfits, marching and singing songs.  I think it may have been a fundraiser walk of some sort.

It felt good to be going fast with the less-polluted-than-usual air breezing past me, rather than sitting in a taxi, inching along at a snail's pace.  Car Free Sundays may be my new favorite weekend activity here in Jakarta.

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