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.
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.
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?