food / travel

Traffic-Choked Moscow Makes Space For Feet And Bikes

In the Russian capital, where rush-hour traffic lasts past midnight, the Mayor has decided to make the city more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Will drivers finally give way?

Moscow, one of the world's traffic capitals (Cavin)
Moscow, one of the world's traffic capitals (Cavin)

MOSCOW - The Russian capital is a city of many layers. But on street level, it is all about the traffic jams. To unluck the eternal congestion -- and resulting pollution -- Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is set to unveil a plan to close selected streets to motor vehicle traffic, creating areas and whole routes reserved for pedestrians and bicycles.

The streets would be closed on weekends, holidays and for special events. "The goal is to institute pedestrian areas in the city, with the possibility of stopping traffic on certain streets on weekends for pedestrians," said Maxim Liksutov, the head of the city's transportation department.

Moscow already has two pedestrian-only streets, including the famous Arbat street in the city center, but does not have weekend street closures that have become popular elsewhere around the world.

Earlier this week, the city announced that it was looking into more than 100 possible routes for pedestrians and bicycles, both in central Moscow as well as in the outskirts. Mayor Sobyanin believes that more pedestrian streets will both beautify the city and attract more tourists.

Liksutov said that the creation of the weekend pedestrian zones would have to go hand-in-hand with a complex analysis of movement in the city, both on the road and in public transportation. The city, he said, already has the means to model traffic based on nuances like the how many seats are free in movie theaters (which in turn affect the traffic around the theaters). He also explained that additional parking spaces would be added near the streets that are shut down. And for closures that last several days, the city will also try to get Wi-Fi access set up in the pedestrian zone, Liksutov said.

The mayor's office is planning to start the weekend street closures before the end of 2012, and will announce the final plans regarding which streets will be closed about a months before the closures.

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

Read the full article in Russian in Kommersant.

Photo - Cavin

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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