The Fashion of Ecomobility

Egor Muleev | Ksenia Mokrushina

Text by Ksenia Mokrushina, Director of the Center for Urban Studies, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, and Egor Muleev.

What’s wrong with Moscow’s cyclist -and pedestrian- friendly policies?

More cars and more metro: two-faced transport policies in Moscow

Overreliance on private automobiles is one of the key concerns for most cities worldwide. Moscow is no exception. Rapid motorization of the post-Soviet era compelled the ex-mayor of Moscow, Yuriy Luzhkov, to focus primarily on building roads, which in Moscow took the form of a strange and detrimental combination of streets and highways. Building the Third Transportation Ring and major outbound arteries of the Big Leningradskiy and Krasnopresnenskiy Prospects became Luzhkov’s key failed efforts to tackle congestion through providing more space for cars. The absence of traffic lights and left turns, spaghetti junctions and extra lines with public transport stops cutting through existing residential areas did little to help the city suffocating from traffic jams.[1] Neither urban streets nor highways, they simply redistributed traffic bottlenecks around the city rather than eliminating them.

This does not mean, however, that Luzhkov turned a blind eye to public transportation: during his tenure in office from 1992 to 2010, the Moscow subway network grew by 2.7 kilometers per year on average. While trying to satisfy both drivers and passengers, however, the infamous ex-mayor failed to address the needs of either. According to the Center for Transport Infrastructure Studies, in 2007 the average speed of traffic flow in Moscow was mere 28 km/h, while the city metro system suffered from significant overcrowding in peak hours.[2] By 2010, the unchecked automobilization of Moscow had resulted in a 30% overrun of the carrying capacity of Moscow’s transportation system.[3]

Appointed in 2010, Mayor Sobyanin started out by approaching Moscow’s transportation crisis in a similar fashion. Since 2012 Moscow’s annual budget for transportation infrastructure construction was around 400 bln rubles, which is 10-15 times more than average government spending on transportation in other Russian regions. From 2012 to 2016 the new Moscow government built twice as many metro lines than during Luzhkov’s term: 5.9 km per year on average. A few more important outbound avenues with questionable anti-congestion characteristics were provided, including Yaroslavskoe shosse, Dmitrovskoe shosse, Varshavkoe shosse and others.

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[2] The Survey of Traffic Flow Characteristics in Moscow. Annual Report 2007. The Center for Transport Infrastructure Studies.
[3] Moscow Department of Transportation.
[4] International Association of Public Transport.