Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here's what I wrote last week:

The way they park - and drive! - on Khreshchatyk's sidewalks is SO BAD. But it's a norm by now.

In a way, it's our new "Ми разом, нас багато, і нас не подолати!" (The main slogan of Maidan 2004: "We're together, there're many of us, and we cannot be defeated!")

Today, I've learned that this retarded way of parking is quite literally our new "Ми разом, нас багато, і нас не подолати!"

Vladislav Kaskiv, the leader of Pora, stepped out of the car pictured below, and, accompanied by a man and a woman, proceeded to the Grand Gallery store nearby. I've no idea if the car belongs to him or his friends - and I couldn't care less. What matters is the way they parked it. I wish I had a picture of Kaskiv actually getting out of this car - but I'm not a paparazzi. I'm a shocked observer. And I'm shocked - but not surprised. The revolution's evolution.


  1. If Klitschko can promise a "tax illegal parking" campaign and make it a quality of life issue for the average Kyivan, he could win!

  2. Neeka, let's make a noise: [] (What else could we do..)

  3. Once a few of them start getting scratched by prams and shopping trolleys, they might stop doing it. It works where I live!

  4. There was a character a long time ago on "Saturday Night Live," a comedy show, who was a Cuban baseball player in the US. His "catch phrase" or "tag line" was - "baseball been berry, berry good to me".

    Politics been "berry, berry good" to Kaskiv, judging by the SUV.

    But here's the question - where are these people supposed to park their vehicles?

    And isn't the lack of parking spaces just one more huge sign of lack of city planning, lack of competent government, and a huge amount of corruption underlying both?

    And why isn't there a candidate running on an anti-corruption platform? Klitcko's signs say Kyiv needs a "strong" mayor, and Turchynov's slogans are that Kyiv needs a "smart" mayor.

    And by the way, eventually scratches by prams and shopping trolleys, as stated by Oscar, and maybe writing a message on the side of the car with one's key might eventually work.

    Some responsible urban government and urban planning might work better.

  5. Designed under communism, the streets of Kyiv lack the civilized parking facilities to match the car capacity of the capitalist era.

    Our driving culture, marked by Freudian power distance, blatant disregard for traffic rules, and wide$pread immunity from prosecution, exacerbates the problem.

    As for Kaskiv, don’t miss these touching videos:

  6. Neeka, I love your blog. I lived in Kyiv 3 years ago and am returning for a visit this summer. I'm wondering - is Khryshattuck still closed to traffic on Sundays?

  7. Advice on this problem from 'London Times'

    ECO-VIGILANTES across northern Europe are fighting the growing popularity of 4x4s — by letting air out of their tyres.
    They seem to be getting away with it. Having studied the law, the environmentalists concluded that it was legal if the vehicles sustained no damage. Some claim to have let tyres down in front of police officers.

    The movement began in Paris late last year and has since spread to other cities in France, Belgium and Holland. Protesters in Italy, Spain and Germany have shown interest in starting similar campaigns.

    Now British environmentalists, who adopt a gentler approach, are worried that deflating may become a popular tactic in the UK, alienating mainstream supporters.

    The Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles, Europe’s leading motor trade association, says the number of 4x4s in the European Union more than doubled between 1998 and the end of 2004.

    The continental groups compete to see who can let down the most tyres in a night. In December 14 Belgians deflated the tyres of 137 off-roaders.

    The most difficult part of the task is to let air out slowly, so the vehicle’s alarm does not go off. To avoid the possibility of owners driving off with flat tyres and putting lives in danger, campaigners leave documents on windows explaining what they have done.

    A spokesman for a Paris group, who calls himself Sub-Adjutant Marrant (Joker), argues that drivers of 4x4s do not care that their vehicles emit disproportionate amounts of carbon dioxide, and that politicians are scared of the car lobby. “We emphasise the comic, the burlesque side,” he said. “It would be hard to take us to court. We don’t slash tyres; we deflate them. Air doesn’t cost anything.”

  8. Omelan, Taras is right. The lack of "civilized" parking is a legacy of soviet-era city planning, which did not account for mass car ownership, especially in the centers of very old cities like Moscow and Kyiv. Even if we propose a massive hypothetical and suppose that Kyiv had a wise, non-corrupt city government attuned toward responsible urban planning, the fact remains that central Kyiv is not very well suited to tons and tons of cars. Which raises a couple of questions:
    1. How do you convince Kyivans (and Muscovites, Petersburgers, etc) that they don't need/shouldn't want a car? Especially when their leaders are buying ever more, ever bigger vehicles?
    2. How do you convince those who own cars already to keep them out of the center? Especially when traveling by car rather than public transport is portrayed as the ideal to which the international middle class should aspire? (I nicked that last bit from a comment to a prior Neeka post on Kyiv's metro and clueless western journalists.)
    3. Even supposing our hypothetical non-corrupt city government has put some good regulations in place, say, fines for sidewalk parking and a congestion charge to drive into the center, how do you get GAI/GBDD/the Ukrainian equivalent thereof to enforce those regulations fairly? How do you get citizens, most of whom are used to skirting inconvenient rules, to straighten up and drive right (or not drive at all)?

    These issues are incredibly hard to address intelligently and effectively even in places with better-functioning local government. I've got a master's degree in urban planning, and I've got to say I'm at a loss as to how to address them in places like Moscow and Kyiv.

  9. by the way, on a lighter note, a kind Moscow policeman once told an acquaintance of mine a trick for fighting badly parked vehicles. Lipstick. Supposedly, it's incredibly hard to wash off glass. I haven't had the guts to try it yet (I both despise and fear the Hummer-owners of Moscow), but wouldn't it be awfully fun to buy a few tubes of cheap lipstick in the perekhod and then go around writing things like,

    "пешеходов надо любить! Нельзя парковать на тротуаре!"

  10. Look on the bright side, the sidewalks look to be holding up fine under vehicular traffic loads. Which is pretty amazing given that freeze/thaw is murder on subgrades.

    It seems that a few large parking garages would be in order. Until they are built, nothing is going to get resolved. Then institute a parking enforcement regime and the problem should go away.

  11. Joy, yes, indeed, there are many legacies of the soviet era.

    And certainly noone is going to convince Kyivans that they shouldn't buy cars, not when they have been waiting so long for the good life.

    One suggestion - in some cities, parking laws are actually enforced.

    One example - towing the car away by police.

    Another - the "boot," which is placed on the tire, and makes it impossible to drive the car away.

    I like the lipstick idea - but parking laws ought to actually be enforced by police.

    Some clever Ukrainians have learned how to stick little bits of matchsticks in the tire's air valve, so that the air leaks slowly out of the tire.

    Providing designated parking areas outside the area, and then having little commuter trains or buses from the parking area to the city center might also be a solution.

    That seems to work well in other cities.

    One more thing - in this case, it's a politician who is disregarding common courtesy and parking etiquette, not to mention any parking laws that might exist.

    That's what makes it really aggravating.

    The politicians, who are supposed to represent the people's interests, simply snub the people and ignore the laws.

    Lipstick - not bad. Kids quite often will get hold of lipstick and "write" all sorts of things all over the house when they're very young. Heck, my sister and I did it when we were young, and didn't know any better and our parents were gone for a little while. We got a lesson very quickly.

    Lipstick - I like it!

  12. Jason and Omelan, who is going to enforce parking rules and how? That's my point--the mechanics of solutions are obvious (park-and-ride, congestion charges, fines, etc), but how do you implement them in cities with low-functioning city administrations, corrupt traffic police, and populations who are accustomed (and with good reason) to flouting rules or buying their way around them?

    Is there a way it could be all carrot and no stick? Such incredible incentives for using park-and-ride that even the most jaded bastard car driver would use the service instead of driving into the center and parking on the sidewalk? How would that be funded, especially in Kyiv? Moscow at least has the money, if not the political and social will.

    I'm not asking rhetorical questions. I'm genuinely very curious as to what might work.

  13. Well, in some cities, merchants, as a matter of good business practice, and creating an attractive business environment and business good will in the community (to keep shoppers coming back) have been known to pool their resources to create park-and-ride, or even valet parking, environments.

    In other words, merchants themselves recognize the value of making it convenient and easy for people to get to their stores - rather than having to park on sidewalks.

    Or citizens have approached city governments, perhaps together with merchants, to work out practical solutions.

    If enough air gets let out of tires, or if enough lipstick messages are written on cars, then it seems to me there's an incentive for some solutions.

  14. This is an issue that also drives me nuts in Poland. Pedestrians are forced to shuffle along the walls of buildings in single file because 80 percent of the width of the pavement is taken up by some dickhead's shiny SUV.