Tag Archive: environment


Friday, 27 March 2015 would be one of the happiest days in my life. It sounds like i’m exagerrating but I’m not. Well, on that day, I got an autograph from “my favorite politician”, Enrique Peñalosa, ex mayor of Bogota. Normally, i don’t like politicians but he’s different. Even though nobody is perfect (politicians too) but he has something that I admire : his environmental and urban planning policy. When he was being a mayor of Bogota (1998-2001), bus rapid transit (in Bogota it’s called “Transmilenio, “older brother” of transjakarta) and bike lane were constructed. In addition, Bogota has more parks and more sidewalks.

IMG-20150321-WA0001At the beginning of his three-year term as mayor of Bogotá, Penalosa was nearly impeached because he managed to ban cars from the sidewalks. What triggered his impeachment was the protest from business owners accustomed to using pedestrian walkways as their designated parking areas.

IMG-20150321-WA0003 IMG-20150321-WA0002  His statements regarding urban planning always become my favorite quotes. Here are some of them  :

– “A bicycle path is a symbol that $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30000 dollar car”

– “God made us walking animals, pedestrians. as a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to suvive but to be happy”

– “In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”

Right now, Peñalosa is a consultant and president of board of Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). For your information, I didn’t meet Peñalosa personally. A friend of mine who works for ITDP Indonesia went to Karachi to attend a meeting and Peñalosa was there too. Surprisingly, Penalosa sent me messages through a video. He’s very friendly and sympathetic. Someday, I hope I can meet him in person 🙂

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The Importance of Sidewalk

For some people, sidewalk is just a piece of cake, but for me or perhaps for majority of people, sidewalks is a big deal. It is one of the most important aspects to determine how healthy your city. Enrique Penalosa, ex major of Bogota said : “God made us walking animals, pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to suvive but to be happy”. I will explain later about what Penalosa did with Bogota during his term as mayor of Bogota.

Last year, I found an article called : “The Perfect Fascist City Take a Train in Jakarta” , written by Andre Vltchek. Things that surprised me were these words : Since 1965 the government worked hard to make sure that Indonesian cities would have no public transportation, no sizeable parks and no sidewalks. Public places in general were considered very dangerous, as that is where the people used to gather discussing ‘subversive’ issues like their plans for the country. Besides that, there are 1 sentence that made me shock : Sidewalks had to go, too, as they were not profitable and ‘too social’. I am suspicious that there is great conspiracy to eliminate sidewalk. :p

Well, of course I disagree with those statements because we can’t consider  sidewalk as a business. Sidewalk is a basic needs for everyone because everyone need to walk. Walk is the simplest form of sports. I remember someone told me that people in New York City walk 8 kms a day. It is not surprising  since New York City has good sidewalk. Furthermore, from health perspective, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people should do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week.

Let’s switch to the next topic :  Enrique Penalosa.  I call him as “defender of sidewalk”. What he did when he became mayor of Bogota was very revolutionary. He reclaimed sidewalk for pedestrian by banning sidewalk parking. He admitted that that he was almost impeached for getting cars off the sidewalk. In addition he said that : when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”.

It was Penalosa and his struggle to reclaim sidewalk. In Jakarta (place where I live), the Jakarta administration are repairing sidewalk, especially in main street, because some of them are in bad condition. Nevertheless, the main problem is not about its bad condition. Motorcycle users who drive down the sidewalk and street vendor are the main problem.

Last but not least, I will show you some pictures of sidewalks. I took it in Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Mexico City.

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Sidewalk in Old Town, Jakarta. Always be full of street vendors

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Sidewalk in Jalan MH. Thamrin. I took this picture on Sunday. No street vendor, but wait ….you have to come to this street on weekdays…and you will see the reality.

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Sidewalk in Bangkok is just the same as Jakarta, full of street vendor and…..oh wait there is “ojek” . Completely the same as Jakarta.

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Sidewalk in Kuala Lumpur. Most of sidewalks in KL are in good condition.

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Other sidewalk in Kuala Lumpur

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Sidewalk in Mexico City

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Other sidewalk in Mexico City

 

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I always love to take picture of protest. It began in 2010 when I took picture of May Day in Jakarta. On October 5th, Greenpeace around the world came together to protest the unjust detention of the Arctic 30. For those of you who don’t know about “Arctic 30”, i’ll explain a little bit about it.

Last month, the Russian Coast Guard seized the Arctic Sunrise (Greenpeace’s vessel)  and  arresested 30 activists as they protested Arctic . The drilling project, run by Gazprom, try to extract oil from Barent Sea. Greenpeace opposes Artic drilling because it is considered as a grave environmental risk. In fact, the activists protest peacefully but Russian authority accused them of “piracy as part of an organized group”. The government of the Netherlands announced on Friday (4 October) that it would launch legal action to free the ‘Arctic 30’. There are 2 dutch activists and Arctic Sunrise, which is Dutch-flagged vessel.

Here’s another picture from the protest in Jakarta which took place in Bundaran Hotel Indonesia

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