In the last few weeks, a series of massive changes to the way tourists can explore Bali has been proposed by Governor Wayan Koster. The proposed changes received a mixed response from locals and tourists alike.
Now local leaders are asking Governor Koster to consider the negative impacts a ban on tourists driving mopeds would have on local businesses and the tourist experience.
Governor Koster has recently announced that he wants to ban all tourists from hiring mopeds in Bali. His proposed solution is that all tourists in Bali, over 6 million a year, would have to hire a driver and car through an official travel agent.
It is super common for tourists to hire a moped or motorbike from a local company, or sometimes a local individual, to explore the island at their own pace.
For years there have been issues with a small minority of tourists who don’t have a license, don’t know the rules of the road, and in some cases, don’t even know how to drive a motorcycle safely before hitting the streets.
Governor Koster’s concerns are primarily focused on the legal issues when it comes to foreigners driving motorcycles, such as wearing helmets, drunk driving, and driving recklessly.
That said, there are also valid safety concerns; every year, dozens of tourists in Bali end up in the ICU after experiencing horrific traffic collisions on motorcycles in Bali. Koster’s new proposed ban on tourists driving motorcycles would, naturally, resolve this issue too.
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While some people are pleased by the firm stance proposed by the provincial government, others have expressed concerns. The Councilor for Klungkung Regency, where the popular tourist destination Nusa Penida can be found, has shared his thoughts.
The Member of the Klungkung DPRD, Gede Artison Andarawata, has asked for the proposal to be reviewed. He told reporters, “Just apply the rules that already exist properly.”
He noted that banning tourists from hiring motorcycles in Bali would have a negative impact on the hundreds of motorcycle rental owners who depend on self-driving tourists for their income.
As many families in Bali are still slowly recovering from the impacts of three years of the pandemic, the potential loss of this income is devastating.
He added that the traffic law comes under the jurisdiction of the National Police. Andarawata continued that although the law change has simply been tabled and not yet written into law, it has caused ‘multiple interpretations’ of the proposed rules.
He explained that people have been thinking, “if a foreign tourist has an international driver’s license that is recognized by the laws of our country, is it also forbidden to rent and drive a motorbike.”
Aside from suggesting that the current laws become enforced more seriously, Andarawata suggested that a mutual agreement should be created to recognize the driving license of other countries.
He suggests that if Indonesia created a mutual recognition agreement with countries where tourists most regularly visit Bali, everyone’s international driving license would be legal.
It is not only Andarawata who has thrown his suggestions into the ring. Australasian-Indonesian content creator Damian Hoo has suggested that the proposed ban will also have a negative impact on tourists.
During a video on his Instagram, he explained the whole story for the uninitiated. He shared solutions and explained how the traffic on the island would go from bad to worse if all tourists had to hire a private driver and car through a travel agent.
For tourists traveling to Bali in the near future, it remains the case that you can hire a moped to drive around the island. Be aware that police are keeping a closer eye on tourists on motorcycles than usual.
Still, if you’re driving safely and legally, there is little to worry about. The situation can change quickly, so keep an eye on the news!
Make sure that you wear a helmet, wear suitable clothes safe for driving, adhere to the rules of the road, and have your international driving license (or local SIM C) on you whenever you drive. If you don’t know how to drive a moped, hire a driver!
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