A screenshot from YouTube of cyclist Elanto Wijoyono squaring off against a mob of Harley-Davidson riders after he forced them to stop for a red light. The police in front, rather than stopping them, waved them through. (JG Screenshot)

Yogya Cyclist Tames Harley-Riding Road Hogs

AUGUST 16, 2015

Jakarta. There was little remorse and plenty of deflection from Indonesia’s notoriously traffic-blind community of Harley-Davidson bikers and their police enablers amid social media cheers for a cyclist who blocked a convoy of the road hogs as they ran a red light.

The incident in Yogyakarta occurred on Saturday, as bikers from across the country headed to the Prambanan temple complex for the annual Jogja Bike Rendezvous.

The cyclist, local community activist Elanto Wijoyono, stood at a pedestrian crossing at a busy traffic intersection and used his bicycle to block the bikers’ path while nearby police officers waved the convoy on, despite the fact that they were running a red light.

Elanto described his action, filmed by university student Andika Faiizal Haqi, as a protest in response to the bikers’ lack of respect for other road users. He also lashed out at the police for not only failing to uphold traffic regulations, but for enabling the bikers to break them and in the process endanger and inconvenience other road users.

He noted that they had police motorbike outriders as well as a Military Police escort, for what was essentially just a social gathering, and argued that the use of flashing blue lights on some of the motorbikes were clearly a violation of the traffic code.

The use of such lights is not permitted except for emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

Still, the bikers were far from humbled at being given a lesson in the law from a cyclist. The film of the incident, which has garnered more than 216,000 views on YouTube since being uploaded on Saturday, shows one of the bikers confronting Elanto in an aggressive manner. Andika, filming nearby, later described the man as having a Jakarta accent. He said another of the bikers flashed them the middle finger.

Police officers blocking the other traffic and waving the bikers through said they had instructions “from headquarters” to do so.

“There was no such [instruction],” Adj. Sr. Comr. Any Pudjiastuti, a spokeswoman for the Yogyakarta Police, later told Tempo. The use of a police escort, she said, “was in line with traffic regulations in order not to inconvenience other road users.”

Instead, Any faulted Elanto, saying he endangered himself with the “stunt.”

“He was putting himself in danger, he could have been run over,” she said, oblivious to the fact that Elanto was clearly standing on a pedestrian crossing when he stopped the bikers. She did not explain why the bikers were allowed to run a red light and endanger a road user who had the right of way.

Gatot Kurniawan, the head of the Yogyakarta chapter of the Harley-Davidson Club Indonesia, said he “appreciated” Elanto’s actions, but stopped short of apologizing for the bikers’ lack of road discipline.

“We appreciate Elanto for stopping the Harleys with his bicycle,” he said as quoted by Detik.com. “It’s really something.”

Nanan Sukarna, the chairman of the HDCI, was also unapologetic and refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the club’s members.

“We’re responsible if anything happens. If some of our members don’t [act] right, then we have to take strict action against them,” Nanan, a former deputy chief of the National Police, told Detik.com.

Others were less equivocal about the incident, taking to Twitter and other social media to berate the bikers and the police.

“Their arrogance seems incurable,” wrote Twitter user @infojatiasih. “The police’s discretion tends toward abuse of power and encouraging violations.”

Another, @rudy_remisilado, wrote “I pray that these arrogant big bike riders are hit by a tanker truck carrying sewage and killed.”

On YouTube, a user offered Elanto four thumbs up and the police “the middle finger.” Another wrote “What can we expect of law enforcers who cherry pick like this?”

Harley owners in Indonesia have long earned a poor reputation for their disregard for traffic rules and the safety of other road users. Analysts estimate more than half of the Harleys in the country are on the road illegally, with the owners using fake plates and not registering their bikes, in order to avoid paying a hefty luxury vehicle tax.