Photo: Planet GordonNewly elected Republican leaders may be blocking passenger-rail plans in Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey and wishing it were the 1950s in Congressional transportation policy, but at least we’re doing better than Moscow. Stephen Smith of Market Urbanism takes a look at new mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s transportation plan:
Increasing the amount of parking by building large lots on the outskirts of town seems to be the most prominent proposal. Like the author of this Bloomberg article which claims that parking spaces in the city “meet 30 percent of needed capacity,” Muscovites don’t seem to recognize that all cars obviously already have places to park, and that increasing the amount of parking is only going to increase the ease of owning a car, and hence the amount of people who choose to do so. Russian urban planners seem to be stuck in the 1950s, too – here is the president of the national planners’ guild claiming that Moscow needs to more than double the surface area it dedicates to roads.
The plan also seems to operate under the assumption that public transportation is the problem — their promises to expand mass transit ring hollow when they’re also contemplating banning trolleybuses from the city center and banning the private fleets of jitneys, known as marshrutki, which provide higher quality and more expensive service than the city’s decrepit buses.
Some of the elements of the plan seem just too ridiculous to be true. Are they really going to “[ban] most ground-level pedestrian crossings,” as the first Moscow Times article suggests? Or forbid all new commercial construction inside of Moscow’s Third Ring Road, which means essentially everywhere within five miles of the city center?
I’m sure the city’s nightmarish traffic, chronicled in an August New Yorker dispatch, can only be good for local business. Right?