Jakartans turns to bicycles to commute in ‘new normal’ as Indonesia reports 857 new virus cases

Cyclists line up to enter the Senayan sports complex in Jakarta. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Jakartans are flocking to bicycles to commute and for exercise. On SUnday (June 14) cases in Indonesia rose by 857 within one day to 38,277, with the death toll adding by 43 to 2,134. - Jakarta Post/ANN

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post): As offices, shops and public facilities in the capital reopen amid the loosening of social restrictions that had been enacted to contain the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, Jakartans are flocking to bicycles to commute and for exercise.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) – a global NGO that promotes sustainable transportation and urban development – recorded a tenfold increase in the number of cyclists along Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta over the week.

"Based on ITDP Indonesia’s observations on June 11, the number of cyclists has increased by 1,000 per cent on Jl. Sudirman between 6.30am and 8am on a weekday compared to the data recorded last year on Oct. 23 and Nov. 6," ITDP Indonesia spokesperson Fani Rachmita said in a written statement on Sunday (June 14).

The increased bicycle use has also led the Jakarta administration to set up miles of pop-up bike lanes along Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin in Central Jakarta on Sunday from 6am to 6pm.

"The car-free day is still halted this week. However, residents are allowed to use the left side of Jl. Sudirman and Jl. Thamrin for cycling," Jakarta Transportation Agency head Syafrin Liputo said in a written statement on Saturday.

“Personnel from the Jakarta Transportation Agency and the Jakarta Public Order Agency will be deployed along the [two roads] to ensure that everyone follows health protocol.”

The move was praised by the ITDP, Bike to Work Indonesia (B2W Indonesia) and Jakarta Transportation Discussion Forum (FDTJ).

"The pop-up bike lane ideally should reach all public mass transportation routes, especially the 13 corridors of the Transjakarta [bus network]," Fani added.

Bicycle use had already seen an increase before restrictions were eased, with some urbanites turning to cycling to cope with mental health issues arising from being forced to stay at home for weeks on end.

The city administration initially planned to expand the bike lane network to 63 km this year out of the planned 500 km throughout the city. However, this year's program is likely to be scrapped, as Jakarta has altered the city budget in response to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 857 within one day to 38,277, with the death toll adding by 43 to 2,134, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said at a press conference on Sunday.

He said 755 more people had been discharged from hospitals, making the total number of recovered patients stand at 14,531.

The pandemic has spread to all the 34 provinces in the archipelagic country.

Within the past 24 hours, no new positive cases were found in six provinces, namely, Riau, Riau Islands, Jambi, Central Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and Gorontalo.

The Indonesian government is preparing for the new normal scheme under which the public would be allowed to resume their routines. - Xinhua/Asian News Network

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