How to survive Moscow traffic jams
Moscow traffic has become a serious problem lately. I didn't want to acknowledge that before, but it seems we're not going to get out of this mess anywhere soon.
If we can't get rid of this problem - we can at least understand what's causing it, and more important - how we can minimize its impact on our lives.
OK, so what are the causes of those horrible Moscow traffic jams we've been having all these years? I would say there are two main ones, namely:
- Poor city planning
- Inefficient road-building policy.
The problem with city planning goes back to the good old times of the Soviet Union. It may be a little hard for you to grasp, but back then Moscow was sort of restricted area, like a military base or an airport. Yes, yes - not everyone could live there, and it wasn't about money. You just had to get a separate permission from authorities to move to Moscow - and believe me, it was not easy!
Let's just say that in order to get Moscow propiska (registration), you had to marry a muscovite, get a job in Moscow or get invited by the authorities if the country needed you. It's kinda like getting a visa to another state these days, only that in the Soviet Union going abroad was nearly impossible thing to do.
Needless to say, such harsh measures seriously restricted population growth. Moscow was barely growing, and you didn't really need a developed road network like in New-York or, say, Tokyo. However, what was even worse is that building such a road network wasn't even planned! On the contrary, the Soviet government was 100% sure that the Communism will soon conquer the entire Earth.
Therefore, Moscow's general development plan was built on assumption that things will remain the same for indefinitely long. But as you probably heard - "assumption is the mother of all screw-ups."
Cars....lots of cars!
In 1991, Soviet Union was gone for good, and all the internal migration barriers were, naturally, lifted. Thousands of people began moving to Moscow in search for better life - and you can't blame them for that.
But guess what - the roads were still the same old Soviet roads, and even they began rapidly deteriorating due to serious economic problems the country experienced. In the same time, the amount of cars grew rapidly, and within just several years we witnessed the first Moscow traffic jams.
Obviously, this problem can't be fixed quickly, but the thing is - it's not really being fixed! Instead of building small passages here and there, adding dozens of tunnels in the most critical spots and doing everything "by the book", the authorities prefer to fight Moscow traffic by adding more and more large interchanges that don't really solve anything.
Nowadays, if I want to go from point A to point B, I will probably have to pass a couple of such monstrosities on my way. The problem is they drastically increase the time spent on the road, add to the air pollution - and therefore lower the efficiency of Moscow roads even further. In short, such interchanges are good for the highways, but when it comes to inner city transit - they must be avoided at all costs.
Why isn't our mayor Luzhkov doing anything about it? I think the main reason is corruption. It's much more profitable to build a megajunction than to deal with all those little improvements here and there, and there are so many interested parties involved into this business!
To sum it up, both Moscow jams causes are well-rooted, and they probably aren't going anywhere in the nearest decade. But let's think positive. If we can't make a problem disappear - how can we minimize the damage?
Well, the the first wise thing to do is to use the Moscow metro. It may me noisy and stuffed, but at least you'll make it on time, without all the traffic hassle. Personally, I always prefer to use the metro over if you use the car - there's never knowing where and when your journey will end.
Another good thing would be not trying to avoid the peak times. There were sweet innocent days when you could wake up half an hour earlier and be sure the roads won't be jammed. Well, such days are no more. Right now, Moscow traffic can hit you anytime and anywhere. For example, on Tverskaya you can get stuck even in the middle of the night, and since it's a major traffic artery - don't think it only affects those who came to have fun in casinos!
Finally, if you do get stuck in a jam - take it easy. It may take you anywhere between an hour and a whole day to get out, so if you have serious upcoming appointments - better reconsider. Again, remain calm. Getting irritated won't help you - it's like getting angry at an earthquake or a meteor.
Put on some relaxing music, think about all the good things you have in your life. After all, one of the main reasons we get upset in a jam is because we want to do a lot of stuff all the time. Well, maybe life isn't only doing things! Heard of Zen? Just try to take the Moscow traffic as it is, and you'll see how it helps. I know, I've tried!
Finally, if you can't give up on using a vehicle - try using the services like Yandex.Probki, which show you all the current traffic jams in Moscow. This way, you can know for sure if going out is worth it. By the way, if Moscow weather is stormy or snowy - better stay home, because the jams are going to be unbelievably long!
Well, I think I've pretty much exhausted my knowledge about traffic jams in Moscow. Hope this information will help you save lots of your precious time - after all, there are so many great ways to spend it in our beautiful city!
- MKAD - the Moscow Ring Road
- How to avoid Moscow traffic jams
- Moscow Roads Structure - The Secrets Of Roads In Moscow
- Moscow driving - some tips regarding driving in Moscow!
- GIBDD - the Moscow Road Police Force
- Moscow transport
- Moscow traffic survival guide