JAKARTA (NYTIMES) - Dita Wahyunita does not like walking the streets of the Indonesian capital.
And why would she? The sidewalk alone outside her high-rise office building near central Jakarta answers that question sufficiently. The pavement is cracked and uneven. There are missing sewer covers, exposed electrical wires and aggressive motorcyclists using the walkway to avoid traffic jams - or as parking lots.
Then, of course, she faces the stifling tropical heat, air pollution, pickpockets and other shady characters.
"I don't feel safe walking for a number of reasons," said Dita, 24. "The sidewalks here are terrible. In other countries, they have wide sidewalks only for pedestrians, so it's OK."
Dita, a marketing analyst, is not alone among Indonesians in shying away from walking. In a recent study by researchers at Stanford University, Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, came in last among 46 countries and territories for the number of walking steps its citizens take, averaging only 3,513 a day.
By comparison, Hong Kong was first with 6,880, and China second with 6,189. Ukraine, Japan and Russia rounded out the top five. The study tracked 717,000 people in 111 countries, who voluntarily monitored 68 million days of activity using an app on their smartphones and watch devices that was designed by Stanford researchers - the largest such tracking study ever, the researchers said. Each place needed to have at least 1,000 participants to be ranked in the report.
Jakarta, an urban sprawl of approximately 10 million people, with a metropolitan region of about 30 million, is the poster child of the nation's walking woes.
Only 7 per cent of the capital's 7,242km of road have sidewalks, according to local government data.
"Jakarta's kind of an interesting city where it takes a lot to be active," said Tim Althoff, a German doctoral candidate in computer science at Stanford, who led the six-member study team.
"Bad sidewalks, motorcycles on the sidewalks. It's clear what could be done to get people to walk more. It doesn't come as a huge surprise that people can't walk much."
Althoff noted that Jakarta's poor air quality also kept pedestrians off the hot streets as much as possible. In some parts of the city, pollution levels regularly surpass the US Environmental Protection Agency's index as "unhealthy."
"At what point do people give up going out because of the air quality and temperature?" he said.
Instead of walking, residents of Jakarta and other urban areas, where more than half the country's 250 million people live, use cars, buses, taxis and motorcycles to travel distances as short as 200m instead of walking, according to analysts.
That said, there is also a cultural aspect to Indonesians' reluctance to put on their walking shoes.
Longtime expatriates, as well as many Indonesians themselves, cringe at a long-established local habit of waiting for an elevator to travel up - or down - a single story in a building rather than take the stairs. This is also true of escalators at Jakarta's upscale shopping malls, where the international "stand on one side, walk on the other" etiquette is an alien concept.
Then there are the moving walkways at Jakarta's international airport, which many foreigners avoid because hordes of passengers stand in place rather than take steps. (That is also why Indonesians are easily spotted at moving walkways at the international airport in neighbouring Singapore. They are usually the ones standing still.)
These anecdotal bits of evidence - not to mention the Stanford survey - have led some Indonesian analysts to make a disputable claim about their fellow citizens.
"We're lazy," said Alfred Sitorus, chairman of the Pedestrian Coalition, an activist group based in Jakarta that regularly builds human chains on sidewalks around the city to block motorcycles from using them as roads.
Members of the group, whose formation was inspired by complaints from Sitorus' young daughter about dangerous sidewalks, hold signs and plead with motorcyclists to stick to the roads and urge drivers not to park cars on walkways.
They are regularly threatened by angry motorists.
"As kids, we learn in school that sidewalks are for pedestrians, but as adults we think it's OK" for motorised vehicles to use them, Sitorus said. "What makes us lazy is also really just negligence."
Jeferson Butar, who works for a telecommunications company in the same office building as Dita, said it was "hard for us to change our cultural habits," whether it was driving motorcycles on sidewalks or using an elevator to go up or down a single floor.
"But really, it's a government issue. Maybe the police can do more," he said, like targeting infractions such as driving on sidewalks. "It's a government issue, it's not us."
Fransino Tirta, chief executive officer of One Pride, Indonesia's top mixed-martial-arts fighting league, who also owns a fitness gym, said Indonesians could not expect Jakarta's government to build thousands of miles of sidewalks.
"People have to be proactive," he said. "If walking is not convenient, they can always find activities that are beneficial for their fitness levels and fun to do."