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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Walkability Planning in Jakarta


Walking is the main mode of transportation for many of the world’s people, particularly those in cities of the majority world. In the metropolitan region of Jakarta, walking in the public realm constitutes the main transportation mode for almost 40 percent of trips—a massive contribution to urban mobility. On the other hand, there is no comprehensive planning for pedestrians in an analogous manner to other modes of transportation. Pedestrian facilities are often dilapidated, damaged, dangerous, or missing completely. Additionally, there is no process for assessing the inventory of pedestrian facilities, planning pedestrian facilities at a region-wide level, or even identifying the location of vernacular pedestrian routes in low-income and informal areas. Provincial pedestrian planning focuses on piecemeal, symbolic spaces such as monumental plazas that serve the nation-building project, but overlooks the functional network of routes that address the daily needs of the city’s residents.

This dissertation examines the issue of walkability planning in Jakarta by investigating what matters to pedestrians and how pedestrian space is produced. The research employs mixed methods, including pedestrian network groundtruthing, structured streetscape observations, multimodal traffic counts, pedestrian activity mapping, pedestrian surveys and interviews with policy-makers. Data is analyzed through a combination of in-depth qualitative analysis as well as quantitative and statistical analysis.

Based on this research, six key elements of walkability planning are proposed for Jakarta: multidisciplinarity, ethnography, accessibility, legibility, integrated activity, and shared streets.

A literature review of walkability metrics reveals that walking is a highly multidisciplinary activity, with very different metrics emerging from different fields. In order to effectively encourage pedestrian activity, new multidisciplinary metrics should integrate the perspectives of all of these related disciplines and pedestrian planning should occur through inter-agency coordination. In Jakarta, interviews with policy-makers suggested that pedestrian planning is hindered by the fact that there is no lead agency for pedestrian planning, and there is a lack of cooperation between the different agencies that plan and produce urban public space. Pedestrian planning is also hindered by a discursive framework that is both modally and geographically biased—favoring motorized, long-distance modes of transportation and employing method derived from a Western research and planning norms.

In order to overcome this discursive bias, ethnography should become a standard part of urban research, planning and design. The need for ethnography and qualitative analysis was made visible by the mismatch between standard transportation terminology, and prevailing practices observed in pedestrian mapping exercises and raised by pedestrians in on-the street interviews. For example, standard survey categories do not account for informal or integrated activity patterns like mobile street vending. From surveys conducted with mobile street vendors, it was difficult to separate their pedestrian activities into categories of travel from home to work, business-related travel, and visiting friends and relatives. In fact, it was difficult to even separate their travel from their activities since many vendors carried out business as they made their way through the neighborhood. With a large portion of the population engaged in the informal sector, the discrepancy between assumed and actual behavior severely compromises the quality of transportation-related research that is conducted in Jakarta and many other majority world cities. Ethnographic and qualitative research methods may therefore assist in producing more context-sensitive planning data and outcomes. These context-sensitive methods could include new analytical methods that focus on integrated activity, rather than trip-based or activity-based analysis.

In relation to pedestrian activity, context-sensitive planning encompasses new approaches to accessibility that combine the notion of transportation accessibility with disabled access and universal access standards. The need for such an approach was revealed during interviews with policy-makers, who described accessibility in terms of market goods rather than human rights. Within the market for urban public space, ordinary pedestrians were unable to compete with other modes of transportation; within the market for urban impressions, ordinary pedestrian spaces were outcompeted by prominent, symbolic spaces; and within the market for cultural capital, ordinary pedestrians were excluded from planning processes because even the discourse of pedestrian planning was inaccessible to regular residents. In response to this problem of exclusion, integrated accessibility may facilitate inclusion in both planning processes and urban spaces within the city. In particular, integrated accessibility would aim to provide comprehensive routes of travel for all pedestrians, rather than isolated pockets of so-called accessible (yet unreachable) facilities.

More context sensitive planning would also be facilitated through greater legibility of fine-grained and vernacular pedestrian networks that were missing from standard planning maps. These fine-grained networks represent highly connected facilities that serve much of Jakarta’s pedestrian transportation task. While the current synoptic illegibility of these areas may conveniently allow some communities to avoid state intrusion, it also means that low-income populations are chronically under-served with respect to basic urban planning and services. Increased legibility therefore allows for improvement and maintenance of urban systems like safe, functional pedestrian networks, and it may also play a role in increasing tenure security for Jakarta’s significant floating population.

In many of these vernacular spaces, new street design approaches would also benefit pedestrians, who tend to use the streets as shared spaces, rather than spaces that are rigidly segregated by mode. Pedestrian activity mapping revealed that only an overwhelming majority of pedestrians used streets as hybrid spaces, with activity types falling into the categories of surface sensitive, risk-averse, distance-minimizing and stationary pedestrians. More realistic shared street designs would therefore accommodate —rather than ignore—the types of activities that occur along Jakartan streets. Design standards for “great streets” in Jakarta would also emphasize the safe sharing of streets through self-enforcing approaches to speed limits, and the integration of various urban elements like drainage, mobility and public-private interaction.

While walkability planning in Jakarta displays many “wicked problem” features, there is much that can be done to improve, if not resolve, conditions for pedestrians within the region. Recommended strategies for walkability planning in Jakarta include a regional walkability plan and environmental policy developed using participatory planning, reformed governance and institutional arrangements, and a constituency building approach. The strategies also include expansion of road designations and an integrated accessibility strategy that draws upon new data sources from a WikiPlaces network map, an integrated activity study and pedestrian network cost-benefit analysis. In addition to Jakarta specific proposals, a number of proposals are made to advance discourse on walkability more generally. These approaches include decentered analysis of integrated activity, informal economic activity analysis, vernacular placemaking and Asian shared street design.

Pedestrians and pedestrian plans traverse diverse physical, administrative and disciplinary spaces in cities of the world. Integrated and multidisciplinary approaches are therefore required to understand and accommodate these key users of public space. In Jakarta, walkability planning has potential to improve urban transportation efficiency while contributing to traffic safety, economic vitality, environmental quality and democratic governance. Successful walkability planning in Jakarta may also provide a model for planning in other cities where Western models of planning are unrealistic, inequitable and inappropriate. Jakartan lessons on walkability planning are particularly relevant, and improvements in walkability are particularly powerful, for cities characterized by relatively low median incomes, high land use densities, a substantial informal sector, rapid urbanization and rapid motorization. By improving walkability planning in Jakarta and other cities of the majority world, policy-makers and planners can move toward more sustainable, socially equitable and efficient cities.

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