Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jakarta Traffic Observations

Spending a fair bit of time in Jakarta has presented a few things that strike me as "funny haha" or "funny peculiar" - your choice.

On Monday I had to run out to pick up some grounding wire and during the trip we had a tropical downpour - comes on fast and the drops are big. Needless to say all of the people on scooters and motorcycles are caught without rain gear on. As we proceeded down one street I saw all of the traffic moving over to the right-hand lane and could see a mass of stopped traffic on the left that I, at first, thought was an accident. As we got closer I saw that there were about 30+ motorcycles stopped, side by side, blocking the inside two lanes - most strange. Then I realized that they were all stopped under a bridge affording them some protection from the downpour. The rest of the cars, buses, trucks, etc. just moved to the right and funneled around them with minimal horn honking. Must be a standard procedure. Try that one in Milwaukee or Chicago!!

Yesterday morning I saw a man standing beside an on-ramp signalling with one or two fingers, then I saw another, and another. Sarmad asked me if I knew what was happening and of course I didn't. He explained that ahead the road system provided an HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane much like you see in many US cities. These young men were signalling to the drivers that they were available as extra "passengers" to make up the HOV minimum. True entrepreneurship at work. He thought they charged one or two dollars for the service.

And lastly, if U-turns in heavy traffic bother you, don't drive in Jakarta. At a lot of intersections there is no easy way to install a flyover for traffic wanting to turn right across the flow of oncoming vehicles (remember they drive on the left hand side of the road here). To turn right you first turn left, proceed anywhere from a few hundred yards to a 1/2 mile or more and then you make a U-turn from one heavily trafficked roadway through a gap in the median, onto an equally heavily trafficked roadway heading in the opposite direction. The oncoming cars know this is happening and allow the cars making the U-turns to filter in ... eventually - but it does require a bold driving style. Tentative drivers wouldn't last long.

No comments:

Post a Comment