Nov 12, 2018, 05:47am
Moscow’s summer Bike Parade in front of the Kremlin.Let’s Bike It!
The leader of a Russian bicycling advocacy organization claims that Moscow’s Department of Transport is aiming to take over the city’s famous bike parades to smother them. “Let’s Bike It!” co-founder Vladimir Kumov said that Deptrans is also muscling in on other cycle advocacy events in Moscow, to control and eventually weaken them. He added Deptrans is also aiming to water down previous promises to improve the city’s cycling infrastructure.
Moscow’s Bike Parade was started by Let’s bike it! in 2012 as an informal, light-hearted ride to champion more urban cycling in Russia’s cosmopolitan capital – the event organizers had previously spent two years seeking official permission to stage the event, which required road closures. 8,000 cyclists joined the parade in its first year. It is now staged three times a year, with up to 30,000 participants each time. For 2019, Deptrans said it would now fully fund and organize the parades, sidelining Let’s bike it!
Deptrans briefed that it would be improving the annual parades with an “updated concept and improved route” for 2019. There would also be a new concert program to accompany the events.
However, Kumov claims this is at the expense of spending money on “long-awaited cycling infrastructure.”
He said: “Deptrans is planning to provide financing from the city budget for the organization of the bike parade for the first time in the six years of the event’s history and also to remove the event’s creator … from co-organizing it.”
This decision, he added, “will harm both the bike parades and other cycling events held in Moscow such as the Moscow International Cycling Congress and National Bike to Work Day.”
Kumov is calling on cycle advocates in other countries to highlight the dangers of Deptrans ditching the founding organization behind the internationally significant events.
“We are not sure if international media coverage will help,” Kumov told Forbes.com. “It might make it worse; there are always different reactions on international media [coverage] by the Russian government.”
But he believes shining an international spotlight on the takeover strategy by Deptrans could interest Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin: “For us, it’s not so easy to get in contact with the mayor, so [international support] might help us resolve this problem with the Moscow DoT.”