Moscow Artist Sparks Local DIY Bike Map Movement

With its chaotic traffic, aggressive drivers, and brutal winters, Moscow seems an unlikely candidate to be a bike-friendly city, as authorities are promising to make it within five years' time. But for those who want to venture out on two wheels, help is at hand: A set of DIY bike maps created by cyclists themselves.

Cyclist/activist/artist Anton Polsky has sparked a "movement to create a participatory, informal bicycle map for Moscow," the urban-ideas blog Pattern Cities reported earlier this week.

Cyclists' Favorite Routes
After making the first-ever map of bike routes in Moscow in 2010, Polsky uploaded it to his website and began encouraging people to "download, print, mark their favorite routes, and drop off the maps at galleries across the city," Pattern Cities writes. Symbols on the maps note the locations of bike rental shops, bike parking spots, local landmarks, and dangerous intersections.

In addition to regular commuter routes through the city, special maps have been created for bike transportation to eco-friendly events such as the 10/10/10 Global Work Party for climate action and last year's Sdelai Sam (Do It Yourself) festival, which included a cycling parade, "an eco-themed scavenger hunt in the city," a Really Free Market and tree planting and park clean-up activities.

Busy Roads, Limited Connections
Safer cycling options could certainly ease mobility problems in Moscow, described last year as a city "on the brink of transportation collapse." Currently, would-be bikers must navigate busy roads and limited connections to public transportation. Many say the 25 new kilometers of cycling routes promised by 2016 are insufficient for a city Moscow's size. But Polsky's project could give the government initiative a good head start.

"The importance of this project lies in that findings can be shared with local, city authorities as they begin to create the city’s bicycle infrastructure," Pattern Cities writes. "This kind of activism and community involvement is a starting point for effective urban design in Moscow."

Moscow Artist Sparks Local DIY Bike Map Movement
As the government moves to make Russia's traffic-clogged capital more bike-friendly, citizen cyclists are already creating and distributing their own bike maps to help other two-wheeled travelers find their way through the chaos.

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