To take a walk in any of the sprawling mega-cities of Asia is to risk life and limb. Jakarta is no exception. Pedestrians account for a staggering 21 percent of the highway fatalities in this city of 10 million. Sidewalks in the older downtown area are narrow and choked with pushcarts and food stalls; they were never designed to get pedestrians from here to there. Even in the newer parts of the city, cars reign supreme and little thought has been given to the needs of pedestrians. 

As I noted in an earlier dispatch for the Pulitzer Center’s “Roads Kill” project on highway fatalities, “all of this tends to push pedestrians into the streets, where they become the most vulnerable species in the daily Darwinian struggle to survive Jakarta’s highway mayhem.”

But for a least a few hours each week, Jakarta’s pedestrians and bicyclists reclaim their city’s streets. From 6 to 11 on Sunday mornings, several of the Indonesian capital’s main arteries are closed to motorized traffic. Residents have been quick to embrace the idea, turning out by the tens of thousands to take a leisurely stroll or brisk run. Many like to dress up for the occasion in traditional local costumes. In these pictures, Jakarta’s walkers share a car-free boulevard with cyclists. 

— Images and story by senior editor Tom Hundley. He is in Indonesia reporting on religion and family planning.


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