Moscow bicycle sharing takes to the city

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July 30, 2013
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Photo of a local woman renting a bike from the Moscow bicycle sharing program.
A young woman pays for bike rental at an automatic rental station on Gogolevsky Bulvar in Moscow. © Grigoriy Sisoev, RIA Novosti

In late spring, bicycle racks with flaming red bicycles began popping up around the city of Moscow.

On 1 June, the Russian capital launched the country’s first bike-sharing program. Similar to setups in Paris, London, Mexico City and most recently, New York, the Moscow bicycle sharing initiative aims to provide access to bikes for residents and tourists.

With its notoriously congested roads, the city hopes to see people substituting cars for bikes. Currently there are 30 bike racks across the city and 220 bikes, but the program will grow to 1,000 bikes at 100 locations in the next few weeks. As part of the initiative, the number of bike paths across the city is expected to increase in the subsequent months, making it more convenient and safer for the growing bike population to navigate across the city. Some city buses and trolleys have been fitted with front bike racks for more convenience.

The program, in cooperation with the Moscow Transport Department and sponsored by the Bank of Moscow, is offered at a competitive rate. It is free for the first 30 minutes and 30 rubles ($1 USD) for every hour thereafter. Seasonal passes are offered at a rate of $30 USD, as the program will not operate in the winter due to the icy conditions.

Since the program is still in the test phase, there are a few kinks to work out. While people might find it a little confusing at first, ultimately they are able to realize how the rental process works. Additionally, the busy streets of Moscow can be intimidating for cyclists, but it is expected that drivers will become more acclimated to sharing the roads with bicyclists in due time.

In the first three days, Moscow bicycle sharing got more than 2,500 uses. Bike sharing initiatives are expected to grow across the country, with St. Petersburg as likely the next target.

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