Sunday, August 10, 2008
Motorbikers' City: Sea of Motorbikes
Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan
As I wrote in my previous post, motorcycles or motorbikes are the main mode of private transportation in Bandung. As of 2007, motorbikes comprised about 55 percent (370,000 out of 670,000) of all registered motor vehicles in Bandung. This number is currently growing at about 25 percent per year. It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that Bandung is a motorbikers' city and to use the metaphor of sea for their huge number.
Although motorbike is arguably the most economical mode of transportation and the most agile to navigate the city's relatively small streets and roads, their existence is not without a problem. One of the biggest problems Bandung is facing today is the exponential growth of private motor vehicle ownership (not only motobikes but also cars) and the almost-zero growth of road lenghth. For a city of 167.29 square kilometers, Bandung only has about 1,169 kilometers of road (or only about 3.7 percent of the city's total area). I don't have any latest statistics on the growth of road lenghth, but as an example, in 2005, there was only 3.6 kilometers (2.6 percent) of new road being constructed. This condition has made the city more and more prone to traffic congestions, especially during the weekends or holiday seasons when about 1,500 cars per day flock the city from the neighboring cities like Jakarta.
Bandung certainly needs a more efficient public and mass transportation system. There have been talks going on about building a monorail MRT and improving the existing commuter train lines. But until an efficient mass transit system is in place, Bandung is and will still be facing the dire problem of traffic congestion and pollution.