Police began getting tough on motorcyclists Monday, issuing more than 1,000 traffic tickets as of midday to bikers not riding in designated lanes.
As of Monday, motorcyclists were supposed to use the "slow" left lanes on the following streets: Jl. Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta and Jl. Warung Buncit, South Jakarta; Jl. S. Parman, West Jakarta; Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan and Jl. Yos Sudarso, North Jakarta; Jl. R. Suprapto, Central Jakarta; Jl. DI Panjaitan, Jl. Pramuka and Jl. Mayjen Sutoyo, East Jakarta.
The left-lane rule also took effect in two areas just outside the city: Jl. A Yani, Bekasi and Jl. Raya Margonda, Depok.
Biker Bobby Alvianto, who works at an advertising agency on Jl. Gatot Subroto, said he saw fellow motorcyclists get pulled over.
"Not until I saw a number of bikers being ticketed by the police did I realize that the police were starting to force us to drive in the left lanes only," he said.
The head of law enforcement at the Jakarta Police Traffic Directorate, Sr. Adj. Comr. Tomex Korniawan, said that as of noon police had issued 1,003 tickets to bikers who used the wrong lanes.
He said East Jakarta had the highest number of offenses, with 261 tickets issued, followed by North Jakarta with 230, Tangerang with 112, South Jakarta with 107, West Jakarta with 103, Depok with 96, Central Jakarta with 54 and Bekasi with 40.
The head of traffic at the Jakarta Police, Sr. Comr. Djoko Susilo, said he hoped the rule would increase order in the streets and reduce the number of traffic accidents.
Out of the 4,206 road accidents reported in the first 10 months of last year, 3,826 involved motorcyclists.
Bobby said there were still too few road signs informing motorcycles to use the left lane. "Some designated streets have road signs one day and none on other days," he said.
Djoko said he was coordinating with the Transportation Agency to get more signs.
Meanwhile, Tomex said that starting Tuesday, police would hold on-the-spot trials of offenders near the designated streets. "It will take only five minutes for one trial," he said.
The left-lane rule is not the only new requirement for motorcyclists. They are also being told to keep their headlights on during the day, so that other vehicles can see them more easily.
The city is also considering banning them from entering main thoroughfares during peak hours, recommending that motorcyclists park their bikes and make use of the city’s busway instead.
That idea has gotten a cold reception from bikers, who say it is cheaper and more efficient to use their motorcycles than to take public transportation.
Many bikers say they can get anywhere in the city for Rp 10,000 (US$1.11). The busway, on the other hand, serves limited routes, and its fares are expected to increase to Rp 5,000 from their current rate of Rp 3,500 at the end of the month.
Bobby said he used a motorcycle as an alternative to his car."Riding a bike is more efficient and convenient than driving a car. However, if the city administration adopts inconvenient rules for motorcycles, and none for cars, people like me and my friends will go back to using our cars," he said.
Central Statistics Agency figures for 2005 show that of 7.23 million vehicles in Jakarta, 64.1 percent, or 4.64 million, were motorcycles — about a 15 percent increase from the 2004 figure of 3.94 million.