If you are new to Jakarta, macet – or traffic jam – is one of the first Indonesian terms you will learn. Jakarta traffic is notoriously bad and affects every aspect of life in the Big Durian. It determines where you live, shop, work, go to school – and how much you can do in a day.
With a metropolitan population of 28 million people and no rapid transit system, Jakarta is plagued with major transportation issues. Every day more than 13 million cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes hit the city’s flood-prone roads. With traffic speeds averaging below 20 kph and thousands of new vehicles joining the gridlocked throngs every day – it’s a recipe for constant congestion and frustration.
Although it is impossible to completely avoid traffic, I am lucky in many ways. With the exception of the school run, most of my daily life takes place within our local neighborhood: my office, gym, shops, restaurants, friends and activities are all within 15 minutes from home. This makes things infinitely easier.
Since my husband bikes to work (yes, really!), I have free access to our car. And like most people I know, we have a driver, which is fortunate since I wouldn’t dream of attemping to drive here.
Jakarta driving is not for the faint-hearted. Traffic rules (and lanes) are mostly suggestions, driving strategies are creative, a buffer of a few inches between cars is considered normal, and motorcycles are everywhere. Despite it all, there is a remarkably zen approach to driving here, with little road rage and relatively few accidents. (more…)