A few months ago, the New York Times published a pretty good article on why people in Jakarta walk so little. Since I studied this and related questions in-depth from 2010 to 2012, I have some quibbles and additions, but all in all I recommend it.
The article includes quotes from a pro-pedestrian activist. However, in a presentation of my research, I labeled the promotion of pedestrianism in Jakarta a “lost cause.” I harbored almost no hope that walking could significantly replace other forms of transportation, even in the long term. This is unfortunate, because air pollution from transportation causes widespread and severe medical problems among Jakartans, and walking is the cleanest alternative. (It also was frustrating for me because I love to walk.)
So what should an eco-warrior do? In short, this is another example of promoting the best solution that has a decent chance of success. For instance, my analysis was more optimistic regarding cycling and especially mass transit. I assessed my own resources and position and focused on promoting bicycling; others might have the status and clout to lobby for new buses with less-polluting engines.
In any case, it’s important to recognize when noble goals are actually quixotic – and to pursue different ones.