Cycling is a local means against climate change

Olga Podosenova

Authorities in several Russian cities declare their intention to give "green light" to cyclists. Representatives of environmental organizations are sure that such initiatives of municipal authorities will reduce air pollution in the Russian cities and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Monument to the bike in YekaterinburgMonument to the bike in YekaterinburgIn the spring of this year, representatives of the Ekaterinburg Administration announced plans to transform this metropolis to the city of "green transport". According to the project, in 2025 the public transport in the city will be eco-friendly, and the main space will be given over to pedestrian areas, open only to one mode of transport - the bicycle. To do this, the city plans to build lot of bike paths. In early summer, the Ekaterinburg authorities confirmed their intentions on practice - in the center of the city they opened the municipal bicycle rental.

In Rostov-on-Don, the city administration convened a working group of experts and scientists. Joint efforts resulted in the decision to build tens of kilometers of bicycle paths equipped with parkings along the sidewalks.

Experts say that sales of bikes are boosting in this country. According to official statistics, 1.2 million of bikes were sold in Russia in 2000, while 2008 showed 2.5 million sales. However, experts believe that this is a statistical mistake, and quote much more impressive figures: 4 to 5 million of bicycles per year. All in all, there are more than 100 million of two-wheeled vehicles in Russia, one for each adult resident.

However, development of bicycling in Russian cities meets some obstacles. These include, in particular, cold climate, the need to rebuild all the sidewalks and the air heavily polluted with automobile exhaust. Every megapolis plans on its own, how to solve these three problems. For example, Moscow plans to create a "velopoliten" - a system of light enclosed overhead paths for cyclists. According to the idea of developers, these paths will pass over the city, and cyclists will ride through transparent "pipes" on two levels.

Skeptics believe that bike projects will be postponed again for the indefinite future, as there are a lot of problems in urban areas without them. However, many are optimistic. "The number of cars on the planet will soon reach 1 billion. Transport now is one of the main causes of global climate change" - says the executive director of the Ural Ecological Union Gennady Raschupkin. - "Transport initiatives to promote good public transport links, opt for a bicycle can be an effective action to prevent climate change at the local and individual level."