The Canggu Shortcut has, for many years, been as busy as the main roads. The famous Canggu Shortcut has gone viral on social media too many times to count for being backed up with moped after moped trying to cut through from one side of Canggu to the other.
In recent weeks, however, drivers have been creating new cut-throughs, primarily through rice paddies, leading to traffic on roads that are not suitable for mopeds.
The rice field cut-throughts were originally created for local farmers to reach their paddies. The roads aren’t exactly roads. Mostly single lane tracks are designed to be driven over by farmers who know the route like the back of their hands and, most importantly, aren’t expecting to have to pass many if any, fellow drivers.
It has become apparent that many tourists, international residents, and online taxi service drivers in Canggu have started driving down rice paddy tracks to avoid the infamous traffic. This is causing frustration for local residents who rely on the road for work and to access their rural homes. Traditionally the single tracks that border the farmlands around Umalas, Kerobokan Village, were only allowed to be used by local people.
The paths in question are just one meter wide and run for about 500m through rice paddies that sit between bigger village roads. The roads are paved in some places, destroyed in others, and gravely in patches.
The paths are uneven, and there is a steep drop off either side into the flooded rice paddies. One slightly wrong move, and the driver and moped veer straight off into the field. This not only risks injury to the driver but damage to the moped, which in most cases is rented, and losses for the farmer after crops are crushed or uprooted.
Some areas of these pathways appear wide enough for cars, but signage states that vehicles are banned from using these roads. While some local residents are frustrated that tourists are using the locals-only farm tracks, others are hopeful that it will demonstrate to the local government that more needs to be done to improve the roads in Canggu.
Senators have already tabled the issue in Bali. They have called for more funding for public infrastructure in the area after private investments and developments have put pressure on local resources, like roads and water management systems.
Speaking to reporters Arif Zaenal, 29, a driver from Denpasar, says that the farm tracks are passable though drivers need to be extra cautious. He admitted that tourists and online moped taxi service drivers use the shortcuts to avoid traffic.
Zaenal explained, ‘Because it’s close and we don’t have to turn far, especially when we get stuck in traffic…Canggu is full, and a lot of people go there. Yes, hopefully there will be a solution if it’s to be repaired, I don’t know, my hope is that it was engineered’. He also voiced that he feels there are too many vehicles in Canggu due to the increased popularity of the area with tourists and international residents.
I Wayan Roja, an 80-year-old man from Umalas, told reporters that he has been walking and cycling along the farm tracks for years. He explained how these pathways had no road names because they were never built or maintained as roads.
He told reporters, ‘There is no name for this route, but the people of Tunon are the ones who pave it…My hope is that the road here is repaired and made wider so that fewer fall’. He explained that he didn’t think there was a problem with people using the farm tracks as shortcuts but that he didn’t like that so many people were getting stuck or crashing into the fields.
In the last week, officials in Canggu have been trialing a new traffic management system to separate mopeds and cars to help ease congestion. The trial received mixed reviews, and even if the new system gets implemented as standard, the newly adopted shortcuts may be tricky to close, manage or even develop further.
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