Car Free Day, Jakarta


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Very belated post from my quick Indonesia trip in September.

I remember being skeptical about Jakarta’s Car Free Day when it started out, where one of the city’s main thoroughfares is shut to cars and motorcyles for a couple of hours each Sunday morning (it used to be less frequent, once a month I think, but it is now every week). For starters, the name is misleading–its really Car Free Morning. But when it started out back when I was living in Jakarta and working at the Globe, it was touted as some kind of environmental move, to reduce emissions and traffic. Which seemed absurd, given Jakarta’s problems with traffic, a lack of public transport and so on. A couple of hours of car-freeness during the normally quiet anyway Sunday morning timeslot was hardly going to turn Jakarta from an environmental sinner to a saint.

But fast forward a couple of years, and Car Free Day is now an amazing community event, opening up the heart of Jakarta to the people who are normally marginalised by the traffic– pedestrians and cyclists. I was really excited to be back in Jakarta, and staying where I could enjoy Car Free Day. I was enthralled by the carnival-like atmosphere of it. Not only were there hoards of people jogging, cycling and ambling down Jl Sudirman, being active in a city with limited open public space, there were street performers, a small organic market, buskers, kaki-lima (food carts) and of course, loads of people taking selfies at Bundaran HI (including many with selfie sticks).

This Car Free Day skeptic has been proven wrong! It’s now well-loved and well-attended, and while I doubt it is doing that much for emissions, it’s certainly giving Jakartans a much needed place to play in the city, outside of the malls.

I took a few shots while out and about, you can see them below.








(and of course, no public event in Indonesia would be complete without wildlife on display, which also included giant snakes)


Some in black and white as well.




And a random pocong, of course.




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