Home > Article > Bicycle: Best Transportation Option During Pandemic
Nadhif Seto Sanubari
15 July 2020
With social distancing protocols slowly being lifted, today is as good a time as any to head out and about, of course, while still performing the necessary safety precautions such as wearing masks and washing hands. Surely Jakarta citizens such as yourself are returning to their daily activities, working, shopping, and just generally traveling around the city. But how would I get from here to there, you may be thinking. Well for most Jakartans, the first answer would probably be either by car or by motorcycle. Why of course, it’s fast and convenient, isn’t it? But how convenient is it really when everyone has the same idea and suddenly there are traffic congestions around every corner?
We live in a post-pandemic world where a new normal is starting to take hold. People will do and perceive things differently, as well as be more aware and cautious of things that they weren’t previously. So as we dive headfirst into the rest of this year, why not create a new normal for transport as well? A healthier, safer, greener, and more convenient option for getting to and from places. Why should cycling be the new normal?
For most adults, it is recommended to perform at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day to stay healthy and in shape. Out of all the exercises you can choose from, cycling is one of the easiest to integrate into your daily routine. You don’t have to go all the way to the gym or set aside hours of your day to do it, you could simply cycle on your way to work, or when you’re out shopping.
Relevant to current times, cycling is a much less risky option when traveling. Especially when avoiding close contact with large amounts of people. Not to mention the myriad of other health benefits that cycling regularly can give you. Cycling will exercise your legs and core, as well as burn through your body fat levels, helping you lose weight and build muscle. It also helps build up your body immunity.
Beyond physical health, cycling helps maintain mental health as well. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain which will make you feel better and reduce stress levels. Putting your energy into cycling will also help distract you in a positive way from any stress or anxieties that you may be experiencing.
Cycling is not only beneficial for our human health, but it can improve the environment’s health too. Whereas motor vehicles such as cars and motorcycles use up fossil fuels and emit air pollutants, cycling merely relies on the strength of your legs and does not produce greenhouse gases. With the reduction of pollution, soon Jakarta’s air quality will improve and blue skies will be a more common sight.
If cycling becomes the go-to method of travel in Jakarta, the number of cars on the road will decrease along with air pollution and traffic congestions will be even less likely to occur. And with fewer cars, comes fewer roadways and parking lots. This leaves much more space for the development of green spaces and recreational parks which creates a much healthier city as well as citizens. Of course, these are long-term goals and may take years to accomplish. But why not start now?
Right now, even the Jakarta Provincial Government is making efforts in normalizing and prioritizing cycling in the capital. You may have already noticed the green-painted lanes lining the left-hand side of Jakarta roads, and you may already know how this part of the road is reserved for cyclists only. During the large-scale social distancing (PSBB) transition period, new temporary bike lanes are being established such as the one along Jalan Jendral Sudirman and MH Thamrin. These ‘pop-up’ bike lanes are separated from the main road using traffic cones and are partly created to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by distancing the cyclists from the pedestrians on the sidewalk.
The Provincial Government is also attempting to make things easier for cyclists by providing various facilities and conveniences. Shopping centers, offices, and other businesses are now required to reserve 10% of their parking space for bicycle parking complete with directional signs to notify prospective cyclists. This also applies to TransJakarta bus stops and MRT stations which both provide bike parking, free of charge. These public spaces must now also provide showers for cyclists so that they can come into work or do other activities newly refreshed. With all the ways to make cycling more convenient for everyone, it is hoped that more citizens will take up cycling as a habit.
Other than facilities provided by the Provincial Government itself, you could now use an app to get yourself on a bike, especially if you don’t have access to your own personal bike. The app Gowes aims to push Jakartans towards cycling by providing rentable bicycles all over the city. Simply download the Gowes app from Google Play Store or App Store, and you could have access to city bikes, electric bikes, and even scooters. Locate the nearest Gowes bike, unlock the bike lock by scanning the QR Code, and you can start riding. Once you’re done, return to the Gowes parking spot and lock your bike to end the service. With technology, everything becomes convenient.
Convinced that cycling should be a part of the new normal? Ask your family and friends to bike together and have a wonderful time. Let’s together pedal for your health and for a greener city.
Penulis dan penerjemah alumni Universitas Bina Nusantara, dengan pengalaman internasional di University of Bradford, UK dan Deakin University, Australia.
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