Indonesian becomes Internet hit after taking on motorbikes

Alfini Lestari (front) blocking a horde of motorbikes from riding down the pavement in Jakarta's busy street.
Alfini Lestari (front) blocking a horde of motorbikes from riding down the pavement in Jakarta's busy street.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Indonesian woman has become an unlikely Internet sensation after photos of her angrily stopping motorcyclists from driving on pavements in traffic-choked Jakarta went viral online.

Alfini Lestari, a 34-year-old cook, was pictured with her arms outstretched as she physically blocked a horde of motorbikes from riding down the pavement alongside one of the capital's main thoroughfares during rush hour this week.

After the picture was printed on the front page of a national newspaper, she quickly gained a following online in a city with some of the world's worst traffic jams, threadbare public transport and few areas where pedestrians can comfortably walk.

It is illegal for motorbikes to drive on Jakarta's pavements but many fail to heed the law, and have been criticised for putting people's lives in danger by taking shortcuts in areas reserved for pedestrians.

"Many motorcyclists were angry at me, some told me to get out of the way, and some even called me an 'insane woman' - but I don't care because I know I'm right, they are wrong," she told AFP.

Netizens heaped praise on her, with Twitter users posting messages alongside the hashtag "Save the Pedestrians".

"She is the sane woman of the capital - love you Alfini," popular Indonesian musician Glenn Fredly tweeted.

"Double thumbs up for Alfini," wrote another Twitter user, Sukhendro Pragul.

The suspension of a carpooling system in the capital, which required cars to carry at least two passengers to enter main roads during rush hour, has been blamed for worsening traffic jams in recent weeks.