Two-Wheels vs. Traffic Jams
The numbers of cyclists and scooter-riders in Moscow has been increasing in recent years, however there are still far fewer than in most other European cities.
Text by Elena Krivovyaz
According to the official site of the Moscow city government, there are about three million cyclists in Moscow, however the capital of Russia boasts one cycle path of 2,5 kilometers in length near Luzhniki. That makes one inch of space for every Moscow cyclist. In comparison to Helsinki or Berlin, which each have about 350 kilometers each of cycle-paths, Moscow does not look exactly bike-friendly.
Illustration: Dominica Harrison
Things may be changing. Yuri Luzhkov announced recently during a pressconference that new routes for cyclists will appear this year in the parks of Biryulevo, Tsaritsyno and in some other Moscow areas. This appears to be in response to the call for respect for cyclists from the growing number of people taking to two-wheels. The clogging up of Moscow roads is costing about three billion dollars a year according to a recent government report. Many city routes can now be cycled faster than driven by car, however there are four basic elements of Moscow life that remain firmly positioned against the cyclist: the weather, the juggernaut-heavy traffi c in main roads outside the Garden Ring, the attitude of Russian drivers towards cyclists, the high theft rate of bicycles and scooters. If you wish to cycle this summer, and have somewhere safe to ride, without supplying spare parts for surgery, as some Russian doctors joke, the following information may be of some use to you:
Scooters are OK. They are cheap, zippy and they need about the same amount of gas as a lawn mower.
4, Sokolnicheskaya Ploshchad
One of the most popular bicycle markets in Moscow; not far from Sokolniki metro station. Here you can fi nd a great variety of bicycles: roadsters, mountainbikes, BMX and racing models not readily available elsewhere. There is also a permanent sale of last year’s models with a 20-30% discount. The salesmen all seem to be cycling fanatics and most speak English. New models are quite expensive, but you might be able to ask for a 5 or 10 percent discount.
53/12, Lyusinovskaya Ulitsa
M. Tulskaya, Dobrininskaya
This is a large store with an impressive wide range of products. Here you can find bicycles produced by: Merida, Cannondale, Axo, SRAM, Ritchey, Sachs, RST, Alex, Suntour, Zoom, Formula, Race Race and other makes. There is a wide assortment of spare parts and accessories, but the sales personnel do not seem to be as knowledgeable as they perhaps could be about all the different products on sale. Prices are reasonable.
39, Leningradsky Prospekt
This is a market to go to if you a cycling- pro. Volomarket has a large selection of mountain bikes and high road cycles such as those made by: Sintesi, Hawk, Wilier, Litech, Fondriest, Fatty, Merida, Giant. Special cycling shoes and clothing can also be bought here. The service is fast end friendly. Prices are high. The market has its own special service and repair center.
10, Krylatskaya Ulitsa
Velotrek is a large shop with three departments. There is a humorous monument of an old soviet bike, known as Pauk (Spider) outside. Here you can find a great collection of road and mountain bikes at reasonable prices. There is a second-hand department and not a bad selection of cycling clothes and accessories.
Scooters Are Coming
Scooters are catching on in Moscow. There are two main sorts of scooters and they differ by their engine capacity. Small scooters are no more than 50cc, and maxi-scooters are more. You don’t need a driving license to drive small scooters, and they have only two controls: gas and brake levers. Small scooters cost anything from $500-$1000. Maxi-scooters from $3000-$4000. All scooters are tanked with petrol, and small scooters use 2-3 liters per 100 kilometers, maxi-scooters 4-7.
Japanese machines are very popular in Russia. It’s not just because they are reliable, but because Japanese spare parts are readily available here. Italian scooters (Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia) are speedy and elegant, but they’re more expensive than Japanese scooters . Chinese scooters are cheaper, but sometimes fraught with mechanical troubles. Scooter owners recommend buying a well-known brand because it is easier to get a decent guarantee. Riding gear is essential: Helmet; $100-$200, protective suit; $100-300$ and gloves; $50.
Recommended places to buy mopeds:
Panavto – official Yamaha motorbikes and scooter distributors
MKAD, 50th km
Active Motors – official Honda motorbike and scooter retailer
MKAD, 26th km, building 5/3
Bikeland – Suzuki bikes and scooter official dealer. They have three huge stores:
- Mozhaiskoye Shosse, on the way out of Moscow from Kutuzovsky Prospekt
- Near metro station Voikovskaya, 10, Kosmonavta Volkova Ulitsa
- Near metro station Schelkovskaya, 100A, Schelkovskoye Shosse666