Available in The Jakarta Globe
I think Car Free Day (CFD) is no longer useful to raise carbon awareness. Perhaps it never was anyway.
But, doest it mean we have to completely abandon it? Not at all, it functions now in earnest as Jakarta’s truly urban public space.
Come on any next CFD between 07:00 and 09:00 am, it would be harder and harder to move among the growing number of bikers, walkers, hawkers, brand tents as well as some performances. Bikers seem to be the happiest of all, being able to enjoy long rides and showing off their brands and stylised modification. Taste also some street foods, which otherwise are disappearing from Jakarta’s streets: baked sticky rice cakes, steamed bananas, etc.
And if you are a trash picker with the greenest recycling intention, there are a lot to harvest.
Sometime, something really, really unexpected appear, too. Last Sunday, I spotted the most snobbish of all (so far): the equestrians. They look most elegant and commanding. I bet they would not be out-competed for a long time, unless some one rides an elephant, as a friend suggested.
I can not help wondering how much Jakartans really are desperate for this kind of space to move freely—think perhaps of its contrast with the work-day routine of macet—and to show off (also freely), after being made bored perhaps by the malls.
I cannot help wondering how much carbon are actually spent on the consumption side of this monthly event, as compared to the carbon saved by using less cars. (Do people really use less car on this day, by the way?). I wish some one could instruct me some calculation. The thing is that there are more and more cars that park on the streets near my house, in the vicinity of the Bunderan HI. I saw a family unloading 3 bikes from their SUV last Sunday. Where do they come from? They mentioned a name that I coud not really get, but they pointed that it is a suburban real-estate near Bekasi.
It was indeed striking that people commute to central Jakarta to work during workdays, and also during weekend to experience malls and the old good “center”.
The car free days seems to have eventually also reached the point that all event organisers aspire to: This is the coolest spot to be in the city, you just got to be there! Last Sunday I also spotted Abang-None alumni stealing some scene. The beauty Maudy Kusnaedy was there, too. (She is only that tall?). A man on bike suddenly stopped, getting immediately mesmerised by her, causing his wife to almost fall off her bike trying to stop behind him and follow his sight line in surprise and confusion.
Perhaps, what is needed is a little more sober and relax attitude in public space? And try to trash in appropriate bins? And more freedom from the bombardment of brands and commercial shouts?