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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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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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