Nataliya Vasilyeva rides a bicycle

Nataliya Vasilyeva is a business reporter for the Associated Press is Moscow, Russia. She writes about the challenges of cycling in the Russian capital.

Riding a bike in Moscow is somehow a different experience from cycling in any other European city. With no bike lanes but plenty of road rage, most cyclists in Moscow, myself included, keep off the streets and stay on the sidewalk. But while cycling on the pavement, you need to watch out not only for pedestrians and baby carriages but for the sudden opening of car doors.

I started cycling to work in the summer of 2010 when a colleague, who lives much farther from the office than I do, mentioned that he occasionally cycles to work. Just five years ago the only people who rode bikes in Moscow were either teenagers or eccentric elderly men.

I’m fascinated with the cycling culture in various places. Whenever I search on YouTube for dashcam bicycle accidents, they always seem to come from Russia, reinforcing the idea that cycling in Russia is especially insane. I know nothing about the reality on the ground, though, so it’s good to see it from the perspective of somebody who lives there. I can’t comment with any knowledge, but Ms Vasilyeva makes it sound as if cycling with Moscow traffic is a daredevil activity. She enjoys it anyway in spite of the hassle and the apparent risks.

Vasilyeva mentions the efforts of Vladimir Kumov and his Let’s Bike It project to improve conditions for cycling in Moscow with local advocacy highlighting the супервозможности (” supervozmozhnosti” or the superior capabilities) of cycling, fun events, and work to improve the велоинфраструктуры or “veloinfrastruktury.” Kumov even complains about media bias against cyclists and the windshield perspective of Russian journalists. Does that sound familiar?

Read her story: The trials of cycling in bike-hostile Moscow.


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