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The Cycling Paradox Capital's: Canberra and Jakarta
Melati | May 25, 2012
Before going to Australia, I would sometimes take my bike out for a
ride in Jakarta, but I always stayed within a 500-meter radius of my
East Jakarta home. Suffocated by air pollution and dreading the
prospect of being hit by rogue motorbikes or Metromini buses, I could
only marvel at the bravery of Jakarta’s Bike2Work community, whose
members cycle commute to work every day.
Once I arrived in Canberra, where fuel prices are not subsidized by
the government and the public transportation infrastructure is better
than in Jakarta, I started to consider cycling as my main mode of
transportation for traveling between home and campus.
With a population of only 360,000, nearly half the population of
Central Jakarta, and with many parks scattered among the suburbs,
Canberra makes for a pleasant place to ride. Cycling 4.5 kilometers
from my house to the Australian National University campus — about the
same distance as from Plaza Semanggi in South Jakarta to the National
Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta — is a stress-free 10-minute ride.
In general, Canberra has many designated cycling paths that are well
connected between city centers and surrounding suburbs. Drivers
respect cyclists and bike parking facilities are spread around town.
To make things easier for commuters, my campus also provides personal
lockers and shower facilities to help cyclists freshen up and stow
their cycling gear before class. Drinking fountains are available in
most public spaces, so there’s no need to carry or purchase drinks.
For longer distances to the outskirts of town, major bus stops have
free and secure bike enclosures for those who wish to leave their
bikes and continue the trip using bus services. Most buses have
special racks so cyclists can mount their bikes and pay the normal
fare to ride.
With the help of an excellent cycling network map, I started to
explore the city with my husband and friends on the weekends. It
became a great routine that changed my lifestyle — with weekends in
front of a laptop turning into weekends with 50-kilometer cycling
trips — something I would have never imagined happening if I had
stayed in Jakarta.
My husband, who was also pursuing his master’s in Canberra, changed
his lifestyle with cycling, too. He was once a light smoker, but when
he started cycling his fitness level started to improve, his stress
levels fell and he went to smoking one cigarette every five days.
After a couple of weeks of on-road cycling, I began to investigate
other cycling avenues around town. Canberra, I learned, isn’t called
the bush capital for nothing. It boasts at least five mountain biking
areas, including one with world-class standards, while a dozen other
nature reserves offer endless off-road cycling opportunities. I was
Nearly six months after taking up cycle-commuting and mountain biking,
I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy the excellent
cycling facilities in Canberra and the benefits it has brought to me
and my family.
During my cycling trips around town I often encounter families cycling
together with their young children — with toddlers towed behind their
parents’ bikes in baby carriages or fathers and daughters mountain
biking together in nature reserves. I also participate in campus
groups’ cycling challenges up the 812-meter-high Black Mountain and I
attend mountain biking races where active teenagers, adults and
seniors alike compete for prestigious titles.
There’s a strong sense of sportsmanship among Canberrans, and cyclists
in particular, that I really appreciate. This is possible not only due
to the adequate cycling infrastructure and facilities, but also
because of the active Australian lifestyle in general.
Younger generations are also given the option to channel their
energies into healthy activities — something I and the rest of
Indonesia’s younger generations cannot do in a big city like Jakarta.
I will only have lived in Australia for a short time when I graduate
and return home, but I have a feeling I will miss Canberra a lot.
However, maybe I can bring back the many lessons I’ve learned from the
city to improve the quality of cycling in Indonesia’s most populous
Who knows, later on in Jakarta I might even be brave enough to cycle
farther than to my local shopping center. Mind you, I might need a few
weeks of mental adjustment and extra-protective cycling gear before I
can fully embrace the ruthless streets of Jakarta.
Born and raised in Jakarta, Melati is pursuing a master’s degree in
environmental management and development at the Australian National
University in Canberra.
Cycling from my house to the Australian National University campus, about the same distance from Plaza Semanggi to Monas, is a stress-free, 10 minute ride.' (Photos courtesy of Melati)
# tulisan tsb kirim om dani van gowel bogor
memang hanya orang-orang yang berani yang bisa bersepeda di Jakarta..
apalagi bersepeda dari Bogor ke Jakarta