Let’s be honest. How many of you had that great feeling of satisfaction when you saw that photo of a motorcyclist flipping the bird at a group of cyclists taking up more than half the road?
There must be many of you because that photo has gone viral and spawning hundreds of conversations about the cyclists.
Like you I despise those ostentatious, spandex-clad morons who lack even an iota of social awareness.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with cycling. In my younger days I was also into cycling but then it was about the ride. It was about you, the wind on your face, pushing your limits and enjoying the view.
Which is what so many of the Jakarta cyclists is not about. To begin with there is no great view. If you cycle in Jakarta there are only bad roads, a poorly maintained concrete jungle, inconsiderate motorists and polluted air.
So what it is that attracts so many of our city’s un-atheletes to take up this sport? My theory is the ability to show off to others. Cycles that cost hundreds of millions of rupiahs, cycling clothes and gear that are top of the line is part of the ensemble. Then there are the selfies and instagram posts. If you’re a real cyclist you’d probably post at most photos of you bike, its beautiful lines against a beautiful background. But not so in jakarta, its about pot-bellied Bapak wrapped in expensive spandex, atop a yet more expensive bike. Of the putatively trendy Ibu or Mbak with their over-the-top make up, fake eyelashes and enhanced boobs wrapped in expensive spandex on top still more expensive bikes.
The bikes they prefer seem to have one major criteria – that they are expensive. This is the reason why Bromptons are so popular here. Each bike is enough to feed a few families for a few weeks yet you see posts of a family of five parading their Bromptons.
The same show-off mentality extends to another category of bikes – the Moge. or Moto Gerde or Harley Davidsons.
Those bikes are supposed to signify freedom of the road. Again its man or woman communing with nature on their trusted metal steed.
But in Indonesia? It’s a sham. You have Harley riders riding around Jakarta with a police escort clearing traffic ahead of them (in a city with no views, bad roads, traffic jams and pollution). Yet this does not stop them from throttling their bikes in the midst of traffic jams so that the other car drivers and pedestrians can heart heir virile throaty roar.
What’s common about these bikers – whether on a Harley, an expensive road or mountain bike or a Brompton – is also their propensity to behave like they own the road when they get together. Reinforced by numbers they act as if everyone must give way to them and get really offensive when someone tries to ask them to have consideration for others or to follow road regulations.
Why do they behave so disgustingly? Is at the hear of it a low self-esteem so that they can only feel their worth through expensive things and subjugating others to their will, never mind if what they do is right or wrong?
Are they not aware that when they parade their expensive stuff in front of the rest of us, either in real life for on social media, that our thoughts are not, “Wow, how cool are these guys!” but “What an obnoxious asshole!”?
You have to wonder whether these cyclists, many of them well educated, affluent and well-traveled, are capable of social awareness. Awareness of how others really think, or has the cycling helmets stopped the blood flow to their brains.