Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Vitali Klitschko riding a bicycle is a good sign”

The mayor’s violation of traffic rules should be an occasion to reflect on the improvement of infrastructure, activists say
21 April, 2016 - 11:50
Photo by the press service of the Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko

Recently, social networks saw a heated discussion of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko’s unusual trip. It was the mayor himself who posted on Facebook a few pictures of him riding a bike in the capital. “I have resolved to use a bike to reach my office and other business destinations in downtown Kyiv. For a few days already, I have been pedaling not only during my morning workouts,” Klitschko wrote to comment on the pictures.

The news sparked 17,000 likes, was shared a few thousand times, and got hundreds of comments. Many users rejoice that officials are becoming more democratic, but there have been a lot of sarcastic comments as well, pointing out that the mayor’s bike is too expensive at over 4,000 dollars, and Kyiv’s leader broke traffic rules. In particular, the mayor rode on sidewalk, which is allowed only to children younger than seven, and not dismounted when taking a pedestrian crossing.

“Certainly, it is cool that an official with Klitschko’s standing is setting an example for all the inhabitants of the city and switches to the bike. Incidentally, it was just as well that he was wearing a business suit while riding. Thus, the mayor shows that riding a bike is easy, one can do it every day,” we heard from Anastasia Makarenko, coordinator of volunteer programs and partnerships for the Kyiv Cyclists Association (KCA). “Regarding his violations of traffic rules, they have helped to make clear that the city is not very accessible to cyclists. For the rider of a mini-bike, like that used by Klitschko, using sidewalks is adequate behavior, for no rider can use cobblestone streets with such a bike.”

The activist stresses: Kyiv’s cycling movement is developing, a bike route has been established from Troieshchyna to Yevropeiska Square, cafes and stores are getting equipped with bike storage racks, but the capital is still far from being a cycling city. In fact, Klitschko himself noted that not all motorists behave correctly towards cyclists, and there are not enough bicycle paths. Hopefully, now that the mayor has learned from experience how short Kyiv is on cycling infrastructure, its development will become faster and more efficient.

Incidentally, the KCA launched traffic safety lessons for cyclists in mid-April. The opening lesson was sold out with more than 50 people in attendance. “We may invite Klitschko to attend our lessons,” Makarenko smiled. “It is sad that the mayor got so much flak. His actions actually break the pattern. Cycling is one of the indicators of a democratic society. If a politician is not afraid to get on a bike and ride the city without a motorcade, it is a very good sign.”

Anyway, the capital’s cycling infrastructure is being developed. The KCA had a meeting in mid-April to analyze the map for future cycling network in the capital, which the Kyiv City State Administration intends to approve this year. In addition, the city has allocated money to complete the route from Troieshchyna to Yevropeiska Square, so that entrances to the main route from the side streets are built. They are also discussing the establishment of the Obolon to Kontraktova Square route. Pedaling has become fashionable, and should with time become comfortable as well.

By Maria PROKOPENKO, The Day