Moscow's Erratic Shift Towards a Walkable City

Moscow's Mayor has pushed an agenda to beautify the city, create social spaces, and make the city more walkable, but critics see the move towards walkability as more of a forced march.

2 minute read

August 23, 2016, 2:00 PM PDT

By jwilliams @jwillia22

Moscow, Russia

Sami C / Flickr

Moscow has embraced new urbanism and all of it's benefits: pedestrian friendly streets, public spaces, and beautiful landscaping creating an inviting public realm. However, critics of the program to transform the city have noted that the makeover is leaving out or ignoring the input of the city's population. Maria Antonova of Foreign Policyreports that the changes to the city's infrastructure have been quick, sweeping and often done without any warning. While detractors of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin say the $2 billion city beautification project has been undemocratic, the mayor's backers note that the program is European in outcome, "but its realization is more Asian."

“In Paris or New York it takes two years to redevelop one street: they talk to the residents, they do a test segment, and finally do the actual work,” Muratov said. In Sobyanin’s Moscow, changes are sudden and often unpredictable, with residents treated like minor inconveniences in a process that is moving through the city like wildfire.

...Sobyanin is trying to create social spaces — places where people can enjoy themselves in a pleasant and relaxed environment. These are different from public spaces, where citizens can engage in activities that might make authorities uncomfortable.

“A space can be physically comfortable even in any dictatorship,” Muratov said. “Streets are nice in Singapore.”

Antonova reports that the efforts to remake the city have also resulted in a reigning in of street performers and artists, the removal of the city center's popular trolleybuses, and the destruction of retail kiosks. However, protests of the forced urban renewal have been stifled, with Antonova reporting that some 200 applications to hold protests of the trolleybus removal being denied by the city.

Sunday, August 21, 2016 in Foreign Policy

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

White BUS ONLY letters on red painted bus lane on street.

New York DOT Status Report Shows Slow Progress on Bus, Bike Lanes

According to a report released by the agency, NYCDOT failed to meet its benchmarks for installing new dedicated bus and bike lanes.

29 minutes ago - StreetsBlog NYC

Close-up of blue and white tsunami warning sign on coast in Monterey, California on gloomy day.

Washington State Requests Federal Funding for Tsunami Preparedness

The state’s Department of Natural Resources says it needs continued funding to map coastal areas at risk for tsunami impacts and prepare mitigation and evacuation plans.

February 27 - King 5 News

Overhead view of young children looking at plants growing in raised planter box.

Creating More Green Schoolyards in Los Angeles

Led by the Trust for Public Land, the “28×28” Initiative seeks to green 28 schools in Los Angeles by the 2028 Olympics.

February 27 - Spectrum News 1

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.