Concrete and barbed wire

High-rise security

I have never seen a city as in love with fences, barricades, wires, walls, posts, and general obstacles as Jakarta. It seems like everywhere you want to walk, there’s something in the way. “Let’s just cut through the parking lot” is not something you say here, unless you want to spend a frustrating half-hour trying (and eventually failing) to break through a maze of obstructions.

Sidewalk posts and fences near the National Monument

Most of these obstacles are intended to prevent crime, no doubt. Some aim to prevent commerce (i.e. the posts on sidewalks to keep people from opening cigarette stands and food stalls). Others prevent … well, life, such as the fences that keep homeless people from bathing in certain rivers.

Housefront walls and gates (and a cat)

It all feels a bit unfair in the end. Traffic rules go unenforced, and motorcycles drive on the sidewalks at will. But pedestrians are easy to block and corral, so we’re the ones who have to follow the rules.

Sometimes I daydream about starting an international NGO called Right to Walk. We would fight for everyone denied the basic, healthy instinct to stroll around: from kids trapped in crime-ridden housing projects in the US, to people kept indoors by unbreathable air in developing countries. Anybody who’s worried about the impending global obesity epidemic should be worried about the right to walk. Who’s with me?? And especially, who’s with me and has an extra 5 million dollars lying around?


Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

9 thoughts on “Concrete and barbed wire”

  1. Trish! I’m definitely with you on the Right to Walk. Sign me up!I don’t have the $5 mil to fund the start up, but maybe I can collect money from all the Bloomington Hikers and we’d have, oh about $500.This reminds me of the open access laws in Scotland. We could use something similar here in the US.

  2. what a great idea. the walking obstructions you describe sound pretty frustrating. that’s something i never realized i took for granted – short cuts and cut throughs have been a feature of my walking life since i was a kid. ‘course it’s harder the more developed an area becomes. new buildings and new homes seem to come with more and more fences and territory markers. there’s a huge 6 foot cut in a chain link fence along our local bike path that’s an excellent cut through for walking and biking commuters, as it connects to a whole neighborhood area. i just love that none of the near by businesses have bothered to close it up. it’s been there for years. feels like a friendly concession to people’s needs. (though it’d look a lot nicer if they just took the ugly useless thing down!)

  3. your title on this entry made me think of that lucinda williams song…. ‘concrete and barbed wire’ is the chorus. gotta go find my LW cds. havent listened to her in ages. which is a crime.

  4. Jakarta admin has a “fence” regulation, by the way. Non-plant fence should be no more than 1.50m (not really sure, but around) and someone outside should have visual assessment to the inner part. If you have plants as border, it should be no more than 2m. My mother should know this because she once helped “kelurahan” officers. No idea why we, normal citizen, never hear such thing. There many other regulations that become only “macan kertas”.

  5. Hey Adam, it’s nice to hear from you! I still get the Bloomington hike emails and always think wistfully about long tromps through the woods on the weekends. Done any 50-mile days lately?And yes, M, I was definitely thinking of the great Lucinda.

  6. I particularly love how the ‘Monas’ busway stop misleads you into thinking you could get off the busway and, like, actually walk directly to Monas. Instead of, you know, walking a kilometre around the park to find the one gap in that enormous fence.For a while someone had prised apart the bars of the fence directly opposite the busway stop, but then the government caught wind of it and closed it back up again. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

  7. Yes, the fences around the National Monument really are insane. After all, it’s only the focal point of Jakarta and a symbol of the nation. Why should ordinary people just be able to WALK UP to it? We must defend it with miles and miles of pointy metal fence that threatens to eviscerate anyone who wants to approach … well … their national monument.

  8. No 50 milers lately, but I’ve been telecommuting from Colorado on-and-off for the last few months so my hiking with the Bloomington group hasn’t been very frequent lately. Snow is melting here at the lower elevations, so I’m getting out hiking and exploring the front range of Colorado. That’s why I finally started up my own blog to let family and the bloomington hikers keep track of what I’ve been doing.

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