Surviving Jakarta #1: How To Cross The Road In Jakarta

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Traveling in Jakarta means Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) = unpredictable. Time wise, nothing is ever certain in Jakarta. And unfortunately, nothing is 100% safe either. For foreign pedestrians, getting from one side of the road to another in Jakarta can be a stressful and frightening task. The heavy traffic jam might be helpful in taking you to the other side of the road, but the sheer volume of scooters flooding the streets (and also the side walks) can be overwhelming and challenging.

Then, how to get yourself to the other side of Jakarta’s street when teleporting is not an option? Being born and raised in this capital city of Indonesia, here are some hopefully useful tips from me.

1. The best place to cross the road might be where you are standing right now
If you think that it’ll be safer for you to cross the road on a zebra cross, that wouldn’t be entirely applicable in Jakarta. But if you see a zebra cross in sight, it’s still better to cross on it anyway. But be very wary of your surroundings. Scooters often squeeze between vehicles and stop on (and in front) of the zebra cross when the red light up. Usually the sea of scooters doesn’t leave you enough space to cross the road between them. Carefully cross the road in front of them.

2. When crossing a one way street, still try to look both ways before you cross
Here in Jakarta, scooter rider is your worst enemy. They often ride in a wrong direction to take a short cut to where they’re heading. So, always look both sides of the road, regardless on the lane you are on.

3. Avoid blind curves and only cross the street if you have a clear view of the oncoming traffic
Walk a few meters until you can have a clear view of both ways of the street or look for the narrowest strip of road to cross.

4. Watch what the locals do – when and where they cross
Learning what the locals do is the easiest way to know how to do it. It might not be the right way to cross the street, but it may probably be the safer way to get you to the other side of the road. Or else, find a friendly face that looks like they know what they’re doing and walk alongside them.

5. Stay alert and trust your wits
Never run when you cross the street. Walk slowly and look carefully. You have to remain alert for scooters when crossing between the lanes, even when the cars have stopped. This may sound like a new age advice, but trusting your wits is the only way to do it. You’ll know when the safer time to cross is.

And remember, when you return home to your country, forget everything you learnt in Jakarta. But hey, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. ;)

Photo: republikaonline.com

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