In traffic-choked Jakarta, pedestrians aim to reclaim the footpaths
dpa Thursday, September 14, 2017, 7:55 am TWN
Activists, like Alfred Sitorus from the Pedestrian Coalition, have also stepped up their campaigns to keep motorists off sidewalks, despite resistance from motorcycle drivers as the video posted on YouTube showed.
Their efforts have won support from members of the public, with more and more people standing up to motorcycle riders and reclaiming their rights to pavements.
"People in Jakarta now walk with their fingers," said Sitorus, alluding to the ubiquitous use of smartphone-based motorcycle taxi services, known locally as ojek.
"For just a short trip of a few hundred metres, they take ojek, because walking isn't practical and safe," he said.
For some women, persistent cat-calls discourages them from walking.
A group of feminists have set up a website, jakarta.ihollaback.org, where victims of sexual harassment on the streets can share their stories and organize.
"I'd still walk even if the roads were bad. I don't walk because I fear harassment," said Dea Safira Basori, a 24-year-old trainee dentist in Jakarta.
"I've often experienced being cat-called or leered at, and that makes me reluctant to walk," she said. "I feel more safe driving or taking an Uber."
Urban planning expert Elisa Sutanudjaja is one of the few who make it a habit to walk despite the odds.
"I have to walk because I don't have the luxury of time to go to the gym, which usually takes two hours a session," she said.
She blamed a combination of factors including poor spatial planning and the hot climate for people's reluctance to walk and their dependence on motor vehicles.
"In many places there's a lack of shading for pedestrians and accessibility is a problem because buildings aren't designed to make it easy for people to move freely," she said.
"Many people also live far from their work and school, so they use public transport or drive instead of walking."
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