Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Biking in Bandung

Photo caption: Bikers enjoying their Sunday morning ride on Jalan Ir. H. Djuanda or Jalan Dado at the weekly event of Dago Car-Free Day when a section of the street is blocked from motorized vehicles from 6 to 10 a.m. to allow the citizens to enjoy this scenic part of their city in leisurely walk and other activities.

Biking or bicycling is increasingly becoming a popular activity among Bandung citizens. Despite this, Bandung is not a biker-friendly city. On a normal working day, it is nearly impossible for bikers to ride safely and comfortably on its streets. Traffic congestion, high level of pollution, and ruthless motorists are sure threats to their safety and comfort.

In recent years, there have been attempts to improve the condition and make the city friendlier to bikers. In 2010, the municipal government initiated a pilot project to designate and blue paint 8 kilometers of the city's existing streets for bicycle path. The project, which cost the city IDR 5 billion (approximately USD 500,000) became an embarrassment because the paint was of low quality and did not last long. Bikers were reluctant to use it because many undisciplined motorists stress-passed it and posed threat to their safety. The motorists are not to be blamed either. There is simply not enough street to motorist ratio in the city. Congestion forced them to 'invade' the biker-designated path.

Upon the initiative Ridwan Kamil of Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), the government also planned to have rent-bicycle pools established in strategic places throughout the city to encourage more people (citizens as well as visitors) to use bicyle. This plan, which was first implemented in September 2011 with 500 bicycles donated by private sponsors, had seemed to be going nowhere either. It is unclear what the current status of the project is.

I think it would take more than just piecemeal and patchwork projects like these to turn Bandung into a biker-friendly city. Bandung's transportation problem is much too systemic to be solved in in piecemeal fashion like these.

1 comment:

Dina said...

You got a nice angle for the photo.

Thanks for the good analysis of the situation.