June 10, 2016

Weekly 5: Traffic myths you need to leave behind

JakartaPost – Aiming to reduce congestion on its roads, the Jakarta administration has been working on many infrastructure projects ‘€” from adding more roads to building a mass rapid transit system.

However, according to Yoga Adiwinarto from the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), these projects might not solve traffic jams in the capital as they still provide space for private vehicles, particularly cars. Here are five myths about road use and traffic congestion:

More roads equals less traffic

Jakarta city administration has been building more roads in the capital to reduce congestion in several areas. The Kuningan fly-over in South Jakarta, for example, started operating earlier this year in an attempt to reduce congestion at the junction below it.

‘€œBuilding more roads for vehicles is unlikely ease traffic jams. The number of vehicles usually will grow instead, following those new roads,’€ Yoga said.

He emphasized that with the growing number of cars, the newly built roads would eventually not be able to accommodate all the vehicles.

He then advised that the city administration should instead build smaller roads that connect minor areas to major areas, instead of expanding major roads.

Expanding major roads, he says, will likely add more congestion.

The MRT will ease congestion

‘€œThere’€™s no guarantee that once we have the MRT system, we will not have any congestion on Jakarta’€™s roads,’€ Yoga pointed out.

Yoga said that like building more roads, establishing the MRT would only reduce traffic congestion in the initial phase.

He explained that with more space for vehicles on roads, people would shift to using private cars, causing more congestion.

Yoga further said that the city administration would not be able to reduce heavy congestion in the capital if they did not regulate, as well as limit, private vehicles.

Motorists have more rights

‘€œMany people think that because they have paid vehicle taxes, they can be kings of the road,’€ Yoga said. ‘€œTherefore, they demand more […] and do what they want on the roads ‘€” likely causing traffic jams.’€

Yoga rejects this view held by motorists, saying that to build roads, the city administration uses funds from general taxes ‘€” not only from vehicle taxes.

Yoga said that vehicle taxes were intended to pay for the cost for road maintenance and the cost of environmental damage caused by vehicles.

He went on to suggest that motorists, therefore, should consider that other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, had equal rights to them on the road.

‘€œWe often see motorists sounding their horn at pedestrian crossings. Well, they should not do that. Pedestrians have equal rights with motorists,’€ Yoga said.

CYCLIST LINES will worSen traffic

With a growing number of motorized vehicles, some people think that the city should not build more roads for cyclists or pedestrians because they would take space supposedly belonging to motor vehicles.

Yoga, however, has a different opinion.

According to him, the city administration should indeed build more roads for pedestrians and cyclists because the smaller spaces can facilitate the mobility of more people compared to bigger spaces made available for motor vehicles.

He said that cars could only facilitate the mobility of 2,000 people per hour on a 3.5-meter-wide road. Meanwhile, in the same amount of space and within the same time period, bicycles could move 19,000 people. Furthermore, using the same parameters, the roads could accommodate 20,000 pedestrians.

‘€œIf the administration is concerned about mobilizing people, it should do it that way. On the other hand, if their concern is mobilizing cars, it should build more roads for vehicles,’€ Yoga added.

More major roads equals more access

Yoga said that many people assumed that Jakarta had less roads than Tokyo and Singapore.

‘€œWith a road-to-total-area ratio of 8 percent, Jakarta is assumed to be lagging behind Tokyo and Singapore, which have ratios of 20 percent and 12 percent,’€ Yoga said.

Yoga further said that by that assumption, people tended to support administration plans to build or expand roads to increase accessibility. But, ‘€œit does not necessarily increase access,’€ he said.

Yoga said that he supported new road construction between quieter areas and major thoroughfares, as well as for pedestrians and cyclists.

He said more small roads connected to major roads would make the capital more integrated, and major areas would be reachable within a shorter time as people would have more alternatives.


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