Car Free Day: The Coolest Day in Jakarta

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Cities for People………… Not for Cars…………

No cars and motorbikes on the roads. Its people walking, cycling, jogging, and playing and some other showing their creativity (either they might not have time, space or inspiration to show their creativity in front of mass and get appreciated). The day was bright, the city was peaceful and the air was clean. No hurries and no worries. Still wondering what the day it was……., it’s HBKB (Hari Bebas Kendaraan Bermotor) or Car Free Day in Jakarta.

View of main city avenue during Car Free Day

Car Free Day (CFD) not only encourages motorists to give up their cars and motorbikes for a day, it also illustrates how cool the city looks without the cars. And it advocates on using sustainable form of transportation such as cycling and walking, or using public transportation system like TransJakarta. Its not only about air or environment, it’s also about bringing people together and giving them space for socializing (whether it would have been hardly possible in racing cities, and people who even don’t have time to say hello to his/her neighbor staying just next to his home/apartment). I experienced that this day has somehow helped integrating rich and poor people or communities providing an equal space for mobility and recreation, narrowing the urban divide.

Poor people and often middle class people in developing cities cannot afford car but rely primarily on walking, cycling or using public transportation for their daily mobility. But the transportation system and services are often provided in a way that poor people don’t have access or have adversity in their mobility. And we often have a misconception and stigma that that non –motorized transport (such as walking and cycling) and public transport is for the poor. Amidst of this, CFD is playing an instrumental role in avoiding or in a way reversing this misconception and stigma, and its very important if we are really addressing the urban divide and creating a sustainable city.

Based on the evaluation conducted by Jakarta’s Local Environmental Control Agency (BPLHD) on the quality of air, along 2009, Car Free Day was considered effective to restore the quality of air in a certain region. The dust parameter (PM-10) goes down 37 percent while the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen monoxide (NO) drops 67 and 75 percent respectively.

In 2001, the first CFD in Indonesia was observed in Surabaya and the first CFD in Jakarta was observed along the Sudirman-Thamrin corridor in 2002. The campaign was initiated by several NGOs working on clean air sector establishing clean air multi stakeholder forum called Civil Society Coalition for Clean Air (Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil untuk Udara Bersih).

In the following years 2003, 2004 and 2005, Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil untuk Udara Bersih held CFD on every 22 September to commemorate world car free day closing the Sudirman-Thamrin corridor. Leading to this success, the Jakarta Municipal By law number 2/2005 on Air Pollution Control (article 27) mandates a CFD to be implemented once a month for air quality recovery to improve urban air quality in assigned location. Since then it’s a policy of local government‘s effort to reduce pollution in the city inhabited by over 11 million of people.

In September 2007, The Jakarta Municipal (Pemerintah Provinsi DKI Jakarta) held its first Car Free Day in the occasion World Car Free Day by closing the main avenue of the city (normally full of cars). Starting from July 2010, now the car free day on Sudirman-Thamrin corridor is held twice a month, every Sunday on second and fourth weeks of the respective months. The major activities during CFD are closing the corridor, air quality monitoring and awareness campaigns including supporting activities like exhibition, entertainment shows, futsal league, aerobic, fun bikes etc……

Now the CFD is observed in east, west, south, north Jakarta twice a year and also in cities like Surabaya (observed first CFD in Indonesia in 2001), Bandung, Bali, Palembang, Medan, Pekanbaru, Yogyakarta, Bogor, Solo etc practice CFD once a year. It’s really amazing!!!

I volunteered monitoring car free day (14th November’ 10) in Sudirman-Thamrin corridor not letting cars and motorbikes passing through the closed corridor from 6:00 am to 12:00 am. Cycling, futsal league, live concert, local food stalls, free health check ups, aerobic and other socio-cultural activities adds a entertaining way to celebrate car free day. I appreciate the young, active and passionate volunteers not letting even the police riot van to pass through the corridor (see the picture below).

Volunteer and people makes riot police van violating Car Free Day to turn back

Where are all these cars? ….. I wonder. But later found that number of cars still waiting for corridor to open at 12:00 or some using the other roads where CFD is not implemented. And I asked myself, why these people still don’t want to give up their car for a day at least or get a public bus or have their leisure time.

caravan of cars and motorbikes-the night before the Car Free Day (13th Nov 10)

during car free day

Roads full of pedestrians and bikers

Going for ride-fresh air.....

local bands performing during car free day

For more Photos on Car Free Day-Nov 14 2010, please click here

Photos by: Prashanta Khanal and Muhammad Agung Reference: Car Free Day in Jakarta, BPHLD (2009);


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