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Showing posts from February, 2012

Interesting things happen when cars disappear

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Every second Sunday morning, the fume-spewing metallic gridlock that permanently occupies Central Jakarta’s Jalan Thamrin and Jalan Sudirman disappears to make way for bikes, pedestrians, joggers, street performers and the occasional bookstore.

Car-free day has in recent years become an institution in the Indonesian capital, and in a city starved of open space, clear paths and fresh air, it’s little wonder that people have embraced the oasis of peace.

Jakarta is, in many ways, the Los Angeles of Southeast Asia. It’s a city built around cars, with those using other modes of transport a mere afterthought. The major thoroughfares accommodate several lanes of vehicle traffic, but are hostile to bicycles and in many instances offer not an inch of footpath for perambulators.

Cars are the physical embodiment of the city’s anti-social aggression; their presence, with their noise and pollution and hint of danger has a chilling effect on people who traverse the city on foot. Trying walking shoulde…