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Guidelines for Indonesian Motorbike Drivers

A helpful, humorous and insightful look at riding motorcycles in Indonesia

  • Buy a helmet, preferably one that covers your head and is made of a hard material.
  • Wear your helmet, preferably on the top of your head.
  • Since the police don’t care if you strap your helmet on, why bother.
  • Your children do not need a helmet, as in an accident they will be thrown far away (along with your helmet).
  • When passing a car on the same side that it is turning, be quick about it!
  • Never carry more than 2 adults and 5 children.
  • When entering an intersection, particularly with said 2 adults and 5 children, never look for cross traffic – it shows weakness.
  • Never carry more than 5 big petrol or water bottles.
  • Remember that those small petrol bottles capped with a rag that they sell in the small stores along the side of the road also make good Molotov cocktails.
  • On some roads you will see a line painted down the middle – ignore it.
  • If you put out your arm and wave your hand in a downward motion, you can do anything you want.
  • Never put mirrors on your motorbike – people will expect you to use them.
  • Driving at night with no lights makes it easier to sneak up on other drivers.
  • Never carry a pole, pipe or bamboo longer than 10 meters.
  • When driving on the wrong side of the street, try to avoid oncoming traffic.
  • Never give the money to a policeman right away. They will get offended and think that you feel that they only care about the money.
  • When driving on the sidewalk, try to avoid pedestrians and bunkus carts.
  • Try to avoid the old ibu putting down offerings in the middle of the busy intersection (Bali).
  • If you come upon a friend, pull along side of him in the middle of the road, slow down, and catch up on old times.
  • When driving on the motorways in Jakarta try to avoid the guys selling cigarettes in the middle of the road.
  • If you are driving on a Jakarta motorway during rush hour and going more than 10 kph, hang on for dear life, because you must be airborne.
  • When weaving in and out of traffic, lean deep so you look good before you die.
  • Never yield to other traffic – they won’t understand what you’re doing away.
  • If someone stupidly yields to you, never acknowledge with a “thank you” wave. People will realize that you didn’t beat the guy out on your own.
  • If you get into an accident with a bule, it is always their fault. If you can, fake the accident.
  • When squeezing between 2 cars, always push their side mirrors back to give yourself more room.
  • If you happen to get stuck behind a car that actually stops at a red light, keep the driver alert by beeping your horn before the light turns green.
  • The best place to overtake other traffic is on the other side of the road when approaching the crest of a hill.
  • One way roads? What are they?
  • Red lights do not apply to you.
  • When you come across an accident, stop in the middle of the road and look.

© Ken, Bugils