Motorcycles driving on sidewalks is still a common sight in Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia despite the fact that doing so is illegal. Many argued it’s one of the reasons why a recent study found that Indonesians walk less per day than citizens of any other country.
After the study became big news in Indonesia, a volunteer group campaigning for pedestrian-friendly sidewalks in Jakarta called Koalisi Pejalan Kaki (Pedestrians Coalition) staged a small protest on a sidewalk on Jalan Kebon Sirih, turning away motorcyclists from sidewalks by performing stunts like this:
pakai poster ga mempan, pakai mulut apalagi.. biar dikata gila oleh pemotor, tiduran yang paling ampuh ngusir pemotor dari trotoar #ayoooBerjalanKaki
Despite the fact that they were clearly the ones breaking the law, a couple of motorcyclists really took offense to Koalisi Pejalan Kaki’s protest, because, apparently, they felt completely entitled to drive on the sidewalk. If you want to really understand how many Indonesian motorcyclists perceive pedestrians, you can watch this video of drivers verbally and at times physically attacking the protesters, which went viral over the weekend:
Throughout the video, two motorcyclists angrily argue that they had to drive on the sidewalk to avoid the traffic jam on the road, to which the protesters continuously and calmly reminded them that it still doesn’t justify breaking the law. The younger and scrawnier of the two shouts expletives and smashes his own helmet to the ground at one point. He even tries to goad one of the Koalisi Pejalan Kaki members into a fight by shoving him. To the protester’s immense credit, he managed to remain impossibly calm despite the abuse.
Alfred Sitorus, founder of Koalisi Pejalan Kaki (the man wearing the black t-shirt in the video), later explained to the media that they held their protest in order to educate the public about the importance of keeping sidewalks sterile for pedestrians.
“We educate with smiles, we won’t get provoked by their anger. Indonesia is a lawful country. Pedestrians’ right to sidewalks is protected by the law. It’s sad to see pedestrians getting threatened even though sidewalks are for them,” Alfred said, as quoted by Detik on Saturday.
Will their protest make a dent in the sidewalk driving problem? Well, at the very least, Koalisi Pejalan Kaki today retweeted some photos from the Traffic Police’s official Twitter account showing officers issuing fines to motorcyclists caught on the same Kebon Sirih sidewalk where they held their protest. It remains to be seen if this was just a one-off PR-motivated response by the police, or if they are really intent on cracking down on motorcycles being driven on sidewalks in the long term.
Koalisi Pejalan Kaki was founded in 2011 and have staged similar protests around the country in the past, undoubtedly pissing off many law-breaking motorists. You can check out their activities on their Facebook page.