how to survive Jakarta’s traffic: patience is key

Yet another post about Jakarta’s traffic. A complain from a regular driver.

According to our new governor, the number of motorcycles in Jakarta is now 13,000,000 and cars 3,000,000 out of total 100,000,000 people living in Jakarta. 1,000,000 of the motorcycles are used for online motorbike-taxi (‘ojek online’ a.k.a. ‘ojol’); the number keeps increasing by day and the ‘labor unions’ are getting stronger and more solid.

Cars in Indonesia are mostly right-wheeled, so the normal rules are for slower vehicles (including but not limited to heavy trucks, buses with frequent stops except Transjakarta, bicycles, and motorcycles) to be on the left and faster on the right lane. However, it is clearly not the case in this city which is nominated one of top 10 cities with worst traffic in the world. As mentioned in the title: patience is key to survive Jakarta’s traffic.

Image result for worst traffic cities jakarta

The realities/road rules today (illustrations taken from kompasiana and si.mbot’s instagram):

  1. The poorer is the pity one, hence needs protection/immunity from the laws (including when laws are violated). The order from the richest to poorest: car drivers – motorbike riders – pedestrians. Whenever a case arises on the street, the richer is always the guilty one.
  2. As an addition to rule no. 1, it is not necessary for motorcycles to be ridden on the left lane. They are free to look for the ‘quickest’ possible lane, especially in the middle of traffic jams, because why bother joining the congestion when you are slim and able to slip in between cars?
  3. Even when we’re free from motorcycles, in toll roads another rules apply:
    • Heavy-loaded trucks, the slowest vehicle on the road, are necessarily on the left
    • Lighter-loaded trucks/vans/buses, which are obviously faster, are free to take any lane they want – including the most right lane during ’emergency’, regardless of the speed limits the vehicles allow
    • Private cars are left only with with the most right lane, hence blocking occurs when slower cars are in front. Faster cars are forced to overtake from the roadside.
  4. On a 2-lane roads, (I also don’t know why) slower motorcycles and cars really like to take the middle lane (neither left nor right), blocking both lanes and won’t slide even when dimmed.pacman
  5. Crossroads, U-turns and roundabouts are the most dangerous of all parts of the street. Cars and motorcycles are free to drive at any possible angle to turn to any possible route, creating chaos and deadlocks now and then.




what I learn from driving

It’s not a secret that Jakarta is one of the city with the worst traffic. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why it’s really hard for my dad to allow his daughters driving around alone. Well, in addition to his over-protectiveness over the car (a small scratch will drive him crazy) and the crime level in the city.

Long story short, after a long struggle of 8 years to get dad’s permission to drive on Jakarta streets, he finally agreed to train me to drive (don’t get me wrong.. I’ve had my driving license since 8 years ago, I only didn’t get his permission to drive further than my house complex) last year after I got home from Aussie. πŸ˜‰ Even though I only get to drive on the weekends for the moment (I can’t stand the jam on weekdays, and I don’t dare driving alone in the evening), I’m quite happy. Plus angry at times. πŸ˜›

Here are a few things I learn from driving in the never-sleep-city Jakarta:

1. Impatience will not get you anywhere. Patience will. In the city where the traffic jam is almost at 24/7 level, when you lose your patience, it is more likely to have an accident or at least car scratch. If you don’t want that to happen (other than the fact that you’ll have to yell at other drivers/motorbikers), then just be patient and go with the flow, i.e. enjoy the jam. πŸ˜›

2. All motorbike riders are crazy. Accept it. Several days ago, a friend shared a funny picture on Path describing Jakarta motorbike riders, one of the descriptions is that they don’t think with their brains while riding. Somehow it’s kinda true for some crazy riders who never care about the traffic light (WTH riders, Y U keep moving forward when the light’s red?!?!), accelerate in L- and U-turns, or ride through left to overtake cars which already turn the left sign on (and through right to overtake meant-to-turn-right cars). You can never get enough to be mad at motorbike riders.

3. Be quick. One second late and the opportunity will lose. Enough said. πŸ˜›

4. Concentration is number one. So put your mobile phones away because you never know when the crowd will move. Moreover, it’s dangerous to text or call someone when you’re driving. There’s no clear rule to this in Indonesia, but in many countries they strictly forbid drivers to use mobile phones when driving.

5. Pray is number 1.

Drive safe. πŸ™‚