The Moscow Affair

Currently, many of ’s motorways are occupied more as motorways than public space. Image via shutterstock.com

Russia has madly, passionately (and not a little blindly) fallen in love. And, as with any love affair worth its salt, this one will have its fair share of consequences when the honeymoon ends.

The object of Russia’s affection? The good, old-fashioned automobile.

It started fast and has only gotten faster. In 2005, Russia’s auto industry grew 14%; in 2006, 36%; and, in 2007, a whopping 67% – an exponential growth that attracted foreign investors, particularly after 2009, when the country welcomed companies like GM & Ford with open arms. Today, the ninth largest economy in the world is the seventh-largest car market, positioned to surpass Germany as the largest in Europe by 2014.

Nowhere is this love affair more evident, more woven into the city itself, than in Moscow. The city has a reputation (perhaps rivaled only by Beijing’s) for , pollution, and downright hostility to pedestrians. And, ironically, because of its epic congestion, the city continues to expand its highways and parking spaces.

We’ve heard that story before, and we know how it ends – for that matter, so does Moscow. But passion, by nature, is blind – and stopping a love affair in its tracks is far from easy.

Video: TRAFFIC / ITDP Mexico

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The video above, produced by ITDP Mexico is a surprisingly fun look at the dire traffic situation in . With the help of two Barbie Ken dolls (who else?), the video describes two types of drivers: the Everyday Driver, who drives everywhere no matter what, and the Shadow Driver, who drives only when it’s most convenient.

The situation facing Mexico City isn’t too far off from that facing American Suburbia (as our infographic “Burbs Going Bust” and our two-part “Saving Suburbia” series recently highlited). The ‘burbs, designed to convenience the Everyday Driver, have essentially turned Shadow Drivers into Everydays. Hence why passenger cars account for up to 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in some car-intensive communities in the U.S.

It gets you thinking… if we could design Suburbia for the Shadow Drivers (or the “Disencarchised” Driver, who can’t afford a car at all) and make driving less convenient for the Everydays, then maybe we could convert the Shadow drivers (to the “light”side) and increase the demand for walkable streets and denser communities.

Via The Atlantic Cities Blog

For more on Suburbia: Infographic: Burbs Going Bust and The Saving Suburbia Series - Part I: Bursting the Bubble & Part II: Getting the Soccer Moms On Your Side.