Saturday, 11 February 2012

Commuting in Jakarta

So its been a couple of weeks now since I moved into South Jakarta and to be honest, I am not there enough to really appreciate the area, the sounds, the noise, the calm, anything. I leave for work at 9.30 and get home around 8.
I am not complaining about this as I am actually enjoying the ride both to work and from work and despite the weather, the traffic, the heat, the pollution and the fact that I am constantly alert for the risk of being killed by the other riders, drivers etc around me, so far so good.

I work in the west of the City and the reason I moved south was a purely personal one. So I cant complain as it is my choice. Back in the UK when I worked I had to travel over an hour each way in a car every day for over 15 years for work so having to travel to work is hardly a new thing for me. However when I tell people here that I have to travel across the city it is met with 'that's so far' and 'that's a long trip'. Yes it is. But actually I am on my bike and when I ride past those lost souls in their AC radio playing fuel drinking cars I don't see the trip as 'far' or 'long' as I am moving and getting closer to my destination every second. It is a long way but compared to the cars and buses that sit and wait my journey will always be a quicker one.

The bad traffic spots for me are in the mornings at Mampang, Polda Semanngi, Palmerah Market, the busway at Kebon Jeruk, Around Binus. In the evening, Kebon Jeruk Busway, Senyan City, Around Blok M and of course Mampang. I have cut out Semanggi, Slipi and Taman Anggrek in my trip so I am moving a little more freer. Of course you have to argue what exactly is bad traffic. I would put it down to. Bad traffic is when everything has stopped moving including the motorbikes and for at least 5 minutes. Not because of traffic lights or stupid policemen unable to direct traffic but to the sheer volume of traffic.

Water always flows to the lowest point and like water, motorbikes also find a way to keep moving. The erratic swerving in and out of stationary cars keeps things moving along. Racing off at the lights like Motor GP keeps the cars together and the bikes together. Dangerous? yes, stupid? yes, part of that? yes, necessary? no not really but I want to get home or to work.

My trip is a little short of 20km each way and the time is takes is currently no less than 40 minutes. Due to it being Jakarta there is no upper limit. My first trip to work took me a long way out of way to get to work and the my first trip home took me over 3 very bad traffic spots so I had to change them, thats for sure.

So for those that know the city. You can get from Puri Indah to Senayan without a toll in 20 minutes, Blok M in 30 and Tebet in 50. Mind that's on a bike.

My journey into work is Mampang (traffic) to Palmerah (following the toll), then Palmerah to Kebon Jeruk doing a U turn into Meruya for Srenseng and then down into Pesanggarhan and finally reaching Puri.

This journey is OK as I dont have to fight with buses for long and once I am past the Sultan Hotel the traffic thins out until the busy streets around Palmerah and Kebon Jeruk, with countless blue mini vans doing the rounds, Uni students getting into Binus, people at Palmerah Market and then the usual congestion that goes with out saying. No trucks, few buses just cars and lots of them. Great.

Getting home is slightly more of a challenge but still it is not as bad as I thought. I had given myself and hour and a half to get home but I have been doing it in 45 to 55 minutes.

The journey home is Pesanggarahan, Permata Hijau, Senayan City, Blok M, Mampang to make it simple.

I have to get to the bus way for Pondok Indah, hook a left at Permata Hijau and then cross the railways tracks, ride past 2 of the cities best malls (both in Senayan) then the one way system into and around Blok M and then it is pretty much a straight road into Mampang. There is of course a lot of bikes cars and buses but the traffic so far has been moving all the time and that has been a great relief. Even in the rain the trip home has not been too bad.

Riding in the bus lane? Only at night and on a couple of sections with others.
Jumping lights? No there are too many policemen waving at the traffic and it is too dangerous
Holes in the road? Yes that comes as standard
Crazy traffic and road users? I get the deluxe version

As for fuel, I have learnt I think that subsidised fuel at 4500 a litre whilst cheap does not last long nor give me any extra power into the bike, in fact with Premium I am refilling every 5 trips where as with Pertamax at 8700 a litre it is around 8 trips and the bike seems more responsive,. perhaps its all in my mind but the bike feels better with the better fuel.

So my daily road trip is a big one and it is a challenge but I feel I know even more roads and back streets of the city and am more confident to ride through places that I have never heard of and probably never see many white faces on a weekly basis.

Ride straight, not too fast, not too slow, in a line, following the traffic and the bigger bikes and things will be OK, know where the cars and buses are. Hope to god that the idiots swerving in and out of the rest of the traffic like crazed loons don't get it wrong and riding out here is almost but only just almost fine.

Finally I dont really want to admit it but I think a bigger bike might be in order as the MX will take a beating over the next year, maybe I will be persuaded to get a Vixion to help me get to work but the size sort of scares me.

We will see.

From this....

to this


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