Cycling to work to become Moscow’s reality

Sixteen of Moscow’s main roads will get bike lanes and bike stands. Mayor Sergey Sobyanin promises that they will be spread across nearly all the city’s districts.

The lanes will appear next to large shopping centers and train stations. Introducing them, though, has proved proving problematic, as Moscow lacks road space and regulations governing bike traffic.

In August, a bike lane along Lomonosovsky Prospekt disappeared several days after it was completed, leaving bikers puzzled.

As no clear guidelines on how to construct the lanes have been issued, the workers set them up in a less-than-logical manner. In one place, for example, the lane is obstructed by a fence, which renders the lane impassable. In another section, the lane simply disappears; locals say it was done in order to provide parking spaces for the expensive cars of Moscow State University’s students and teachers.

Law specialists believe the reason behind such negligence is a lack of regulations. In Russia, building a bicycle lane implies little more than painting an actual bike lane in green, without actual efforts to develop any kind of infrastructure around it. 

Meanwhile, statistics show that more and more Muscovites are warming to the idea of riding a bike to work.

Cycling itself has become very popular in recent years, with competitions taking place nearly every month in Moscow. This past July, around 20,000 cyclists took to the streets of Moscow on Saturday night to take part in a nocturnal bike ride. The annual event, now into its fifth year, called “Velo Night,” is not just about the sport – every year the riders follow a route connected with Russian history and culture.

Authorities promise the city will become the world’s most cyclist friendly by 2016.

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