Wow: Bali to ban Foreigners on Motorbikes

The Balinese Provincial Government is set to release new laws banning foreign tourists from renting motorbikes. This follows a series of widely-shared photos and videos on social media depicting foreign tourists disregarding traffic laws by riding recklessly, not wearing helmets, and using fake license plates.

No More Motorcycle Rentals

In an Indonesian Ministry of Law press conference in Bali, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said that foreign visitors will no longer be allowed to rent and borrow motorcycles. Instead, foreign tourists will have to travel on vehicles provided by travel agencies, as reported by BBC Indonesia.

‘So, [foreign tourists] borrowing or renting [motorcycles] is no longer permitted. This will be implemented this year in 2023, post-Covid-19,’

Koster then added,

‘If you’re a tourist, then behave like a tourist. As a tourist, use vehicles provided by travel agencies, instead of travelling with motorcycles without wearing shirts, without wearing clothes, without wearing helmets, and even without a driver’s license.’

According to a Balinese Provincial Police database, there have been over 171 incidents recorded between end-February and early March involving non-Indonesian nationals disregarding traffic laws.

Bali Police fining a motorcyclist for disregarding traffic laws in Canggu (picture: BBC Indonesia)

Use cars from travel agencies

In the same press conference, Koster said international visitors will be required to travel in cars provided by travel agencies. It is not yet clear whether these vehicles can be driven by oneself or if they will require a local driver. In addition, there have not been any mentions of the use of taxis as well as ride-hailing apps; the operation of both has also been restricted in many areas by disapproving taxi drivers within their local villages.

Isn’t this ban too extreme?

Between Bali’s lack of a comprehensive public transport system and an abundance of local taxi mafias, getting around the island is rather difficult. As such, it is no surprise to see many visitors, both foreign and local, travelling on rented motorcycles to get around.

Granted, there have been many widely-reported cases of reckless driving involving foreign nationals. Tourists riding motorcycles shirtless or in a swimsuit and without a helmet are a common sight on Bali’s roads. Then there are more high-profile incidents, like the influencers who got deported after riding a motorbike off a pier into the sea in that infamous video:

The infamous motorcycle stunt done by a Russian influencer in 2020

While reckless driving and disregarding traffic laws are undeniably inexcusable in any country, isn’t this ban too extreme? In any case, it doesn’t seem like an especially effective solution to Bali’s epidemic of unsafe motorists, both foreign and local. In addition to the mobility issues posed by such a ban, I can’t help but feel that this unnecessarily punishes visitors who have ridden motorcycles in Bali in accordance with traffic laws. Then there’s also the issue of much higher travel costs within the island, which would likely put off many budget-conscious travellers from visiting the island.

Ban also punishes Balinese people

The ban will also punish the island’s many independent motorcycle-renting businesses, many of which are small operations run by sole traders. As quoted from Coconuts Bali, a motorbike rental owner in Denpasar said that the ban would only worsen problems in Bali.

‘If the problem is unruly tourists on motorbikes, then the solution would be to tighten the requirements for them to rent and apply them uniformly, In addition to that, there should be regular checkpoints and strong law enforcement against traffic violators, both foreign and local.

Yoga (37) via Coconuts Bali

It goes without saying that the ban may potentially further strain Bali’s income from the tourism industry, which took a very hard hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the loss of income for small motorcycle rental businesses relying on foreign tourists, it will also bring more cars onto the road. That would likely worsen the island’s already traffic jam-ridden roads. Sigh.

Closing thoughts

It looks like Bali is set on banning foreign tourists from being able to rent or operate motorbikes on the island. While there have been many cases of reckless driving involving foreign nationals, I’m not sure this is a great solution to curtail traffic law disobedience. In any case, this will only limit visitor mobility within the island and punish small local businesses relying on rentals by foreign tourists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *