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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Society

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

''Rouge 1992'' by Li Shan at the M+ museum

Maximilian Kalkhof

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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