29 April 2010

Russian President on Copenhagen Bicycle Culture

Moscow Cycle Chic
Moscow Cyclist - from the Moscow Cycle Chic photo set.

The Russian president Medvedev has just wrapped up a state visit to Denmark. During the back slapping/see-we're-best-of-friends press conference about all matter of stuff, a Russian journalist asked a question that caused both the Danish PM and the Russian president to smile.

The woman asked PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen about the many cyclists in Copenhagen, "How hard was it, from an investment perspective, to make Copenhagen a bicycle-friendly city?"

She then asked Medvedev what his opinion was about the bicycle as transport, as she was puzzled by seeing so few cyclists on the streets of St. Petersborg.

The PM gave all the credit to the City of Copenhagen for the high level of cycling in the city and underlined that it was an effort that has taken several years.

"But basically, it is the public's demand for bicycle infrastructure that makes it happen. Danes want to cycle and that puts pressure on cities to make it happen", said Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

He added that he had spent his summer holidays last year to cycle from Denmark to Paris and that he noticed that "the Danish bicycle infrastructure is superior to anything you'll find in the rest of Europe." [Ed: Feel free to rip THAT one apart, my fine Dutch friends, with my support. Because it's quite a silly comment... perhaps he didn't ride through the Netherlands.]

Medvedev answered that he was a big supporter of cycling and he told the story of the time he saw the prime minister in another country arrive at a meeting by bicycle. It impressed him.

"It's correct that Russia isn't very advanced regarding bicycle culture. We have another transport culture. We need bike lanes but the motorists don't always behave as we would like them to. Many motorists don't understand what a cyclist is doing on the road. I would like to see more bicycle lanes in St. Petersborg", he said and added that Russia had a lot to learn from Denmark.

Moscow Zebra Crossing
Urban Immobility in Moscow.

Via: JP.dk. Thanks to Rasmus for the link.


juillet said...

Ahaha thanks for this post. I really like the Russian president. Did you know he's a big fan of Harry Potter and was so excited to meet JK Rowling? He also listens to rock music, like Led Zepplin.

Vladimir 'vudu' Zlokazov said...

I am not a fan of Medvedev but I like his point here. Not that it will make any diffirence (like a federal bike-lane-to-every-street program) but it gives bicycle advocates in Russia a good argument in dealing with bureaucrats. Now they can refer to the 'big boss' which (considering the russian politcal culture) is a big deal.

Lucas Jerzy Portela said...


I know, it's eletric and don't even have pedals ou gear. Still, sign of the times: VW wants to produce and sell bikes.

What do you think, Mikael?

Green Idea Factory said...

Lucas: These will all be junk in a few years. Even if they somehow last, anyone who gives up a real bike for them will not, since they will be getting less exercise. VW is a planet killer.

Mikael: I smell a ferry to Helsinki, than the new high-speed train to St. Petersburg... and bring your family.

Anonymous said...

Russian vodka culture doesn’t work too well in conjunction with the bicycle, as one needs to keep his or her balance while operating this vehicle.

Green Idea Factory said...

Anonymous: Nihola!

Alex said...

I saw this interview with Medvedev in Russian. As usual, many words and no effect. It's easy to say "we have no bike culture" and to drop this question. But the right way is to support this bike culture - with new taxes for motorists breaking driving and parking rules, with new bike lanes etc.

In Russia is still prohibited to ride on the pavements! Even if it is wider than road and you don't worry perestrians. With our dangerous roads we have to break law every day, riding on the pavements where is possible.

I think the most principal part of job is to be done here - to mark half of sidewalks for cyclists, half for pedestrians, like in other states. People should realize that they have to share this space with cyclists.

And also it will be more easy to battle with car parking on the pavements. Novadays you can see kilometers of the streets, where cars are parked not only on the road, but also on the pavement :(

Alex said...

BTW, we are expecting in Saint-Petersburg an interesting event from the Danish council:


ARTronic POETRY said...

First russian KICK CHIC BLOG:

Mikael said...

by all accounts I'll be in St. P on the 21-23 for some of the events!