Endless traffic jams have gripped the Russian capital even as Muscovites mark World Car-Free Day.
This is the fourth year running that the capital has taken part in the event, but Moscow drivers seem not to have changed their ways one bit with city hall officials, eager to set a good example, the only ones choosing to leave their cars at home.
While Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin used the train to make it to work, the head of the city’s ecology department rode a bicycle for about an hour from his home in southern Moscow to the office in the city center, where a roundtable on improving the capital’s bicycling facilities was held.
“Such events as No Car Day are essential for big cities like Moscow,” he said. “Though, evidently, it cannot have any ecological effect on the city, as it lasts for one day. But still, even if drivers leave their cars in garages only for one day, this is good.”
Encouraging people to shift to more eco-friendly transport has long been a priority of Moscow’s new authorities, but so far, no green initiatives have succeeded.
“Many people in Moscow don’t get on their bikes, as they’re put off by the lack of infrastructure,” a Muscovite told RT. “There are almost no bike lanes or designated lock-up spots, and drivers don’t take cyclists seriously.”
In addition, Moscow’s eagerly awaited first bicycle lane, which recently appeared in the city’s south, caused more confusion than happiness.
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 say the reason behind such negligence is a lack of regulations. In Russia, building a bicycle lane implies little more than painting a bike lane in green, without any actual efforts to develop any kind of infrastructure around it.
The result is that bicycle lanes often go through zebra crossings, where many people are usually standing, or over inconvenient curbs.
For more, listen to RT’s talk with Pyotr Dvoryanchikov, head of Rusvelos movement.