An entertaining take on Moscow’s traffic miseries

If possible get your paws on the Aug. 2 edition of the New Yorker magazine for a terrific article on the nightmare that has become traffic in Moscow. Yes, that Moscow — the one where people once had to stand in long lines to buy toilet paper.

The above video, from the New Yorker website, neatly summarizes the story (along with an annoying commercial). As the article explains, capitalism has ignited a frenzy among the middle-class masses to buy cars. At the same time, a confluence of other circumstances — including a push to widen roads, bad driver behavior and a serious underinvestment in mass transit — has led Moscow to often become gridlocked. Especially when it snows because, you know, they’ve never had to deal with that in Russia!


The wise move would have been to invest in public transportation, to build up the city’s justly famous but sparse metro network and bring back the trams…

“No city has ever constructed itself out of congestion,” the transportation expert Vukan Vuchic, of the University of Pennsylvania, told me. “It’s impossible.”

Vuchnic visited Moscow in October and was depressed by what he saw, though also in a way he was impressed. “There are streets in the center that are four, five lanes wide in each direction,” he said. “You’d think it’d be impossible for them to be congested, but they are congested.”

As someone who has long ago grown weary of reading about our own traffic headaches in Southern California, there’s nothing more I enjoy than reading about mind-bending traffic someplace else. This article fits the bill.

If you can’t find a hard copy of the magazine, a digital edition of the Aug. 2 issue is available for purchase on the New Yorker website for $5.99 — which provides for access to the entire issue (and I bet they’d sell a lot more if they charged less for the article only). And here’s a link to a map showing real-time Moscow traffic conditions.

Categories: World of Transport