A few notes on Andrey Slivka's Washington Post piece on Kyiv's crazy traffic situation - Can't Stand D.C. Traffic? You Should See Kiev (thanks for the link, Mike).
I wonder if this figure is true:
About 60,000 new cars were registered in Kiev this October alone, according to the Unian news agency [...].
2,000 new cars registered daily?
Perhaps this is why we don't have the coalition yet? Because they were too busy buying new cars for the whole month following the election?
UPDATE: Petro of Petro's Jotter wrote this in a comment:
to answer your question. the 60k number for kyiv is not correct. Ukraine in total registered 60,482 cars in October. In kyiv 13,491 were registered in October. still a huge number.
Can't agree with this:
Another peculiarity: Cars are really unnecessary here because Kiev's Soviet-built subway system is excellent.
Kyiv's population has grown substantially since the Soviet times, and subway trains are jam-packed all too often now - because they aren't long enough anymore. Adding extra cars to fit more passengers isn't an option - because old stations aren't long enough to fit longer trains.
Also, those who live in places like Troyeshchina or Teremki - and that's plenty of people - aren't likely to call Kyiv's subway system "excellent" - because it doesn't reach to where they live, and getting there has always been a huge pain in the ass.
Walking here can be dangerous because the sidewalks are covered with cars, both parked and moving. That ritual of city life -- the promenade -- has become an adventure in the sort of defensive, serpentine ambulation with which the pedestrian makes his way through a strip mall parking lot. And it doesn't help that Ukrainian traffic cops know better than to stop expensive vehicles: It can be bad for their careers. Drive a Hummer or a Bentley here (Bentleys are common), and you can barrel through any red light and over any lawn or sidewalk.
And it's hard to believe now that just a decade ago they somehow managed to tame Kyiv's drivers into stopping to let pedestrians cross the street... It was such a "wow!" thing for anyone who was visiting from crazy places like Moscow...
But Ukraine, despite the aspirational rhetoric of some of its Western-looking politicians, isn't Europe. In a macho culture that has embraced conspicuous consumption, the idea of people taking to bicycles like the burghers of Amsterdam is inconceivable.
But perhaps winter that lasts half a year is as much of a factor as our "macho culture."
Quite predictably, this Kyiv-centric piece turns evil-Russia-centric by the end:
There is a geopolitical irony to all this: Ukraine, a poor and weak country with no oil of its own, is giving itself over to a car- and oil-based culture at a moment when that culture is approaching its limits. The global cheap-oil party is approaching its end even as Ukraine shoves its way into the rubbish-strewn foyer near midnight.
And while Ukraine may be spared $100 barrels of oil on the world market, that's only because it has a potentially bigger problem: It gets all its oil from or through Russia, an assertive power whose leadership resents seeing its old vassal persist in its delusions of independence. Russia has also proved willing to use the "energy weapon" against Ukraine, as seen in the 2006 European gas crisis, when Russia briefly shut off gas supplies to its southerly "little brother." And so every time a patriotic Ukrainian proudly fills up his new Prado, he's pushing his vulnerable country further into the arms of the hegemon to the north. It's yet another bleak historical irony for Ukraine that its giddy embrace of Western automotive culture may someday seal its ultimate submission to Russia -- and sever it from the West.
Hey, but could it be that we are so carefree because we know that a quarter of a million ethnic Ukrainians live and work in Russia's oil-rich Tyumen region alone? Like, we're "poor," "weak" and "vulnerable," haven't got any nice weapons, but instead we've got huge "sleeper cells" all over the "hegemon to the north" - and who knows what this could translate into "someday" - oil-wise, at least?
I'm kidding, of course, but still, it's pretty obvious that cars are choking life out of Kyiv, and it's such a pity that to keep this perfectly focused piece relevant for D.C. readers, the author has to turn around, face Russia, and start sounding like some Cassandra.