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Cycling Mileage in Kharkiv, East Ukraine

During my trip to Ukraine (the last 4 weeks) I have taken part in the action “Respect bicycle on the road” in Kharkiv.

It happened that a friend of mine is  an avid cyclist and hence the fighter for the rights of cyclists on the road. It should be noted that cycling in Ukraine is radically different from Denmark or The Netherlands, where I have experienced to bike. In Kharkiv, cycling can be equated to extreme sports. First of all there is no infrastructure for cyclists. Cyclists ride along with cars, and using the same traffic lights on the road. This means that the cyclist begins his movement on the general traffic light, and thus delayed the start. How important it could be one understand from the situation when the car turns right, and thus, starting the first, cut off a cyclist of his intentions to move straight. In this situation, the cyclist is forced to give the way to the car physically, since the collision is inevitable. The solution to rank the bicycle in this case is to set up special traffic lights for cyclists, which turn on the green light for 4-5 seconds earlier, and thus give the rider the opportunity to start moving first.

Here I give a picture of bicycle traffic light in Copenhagen. As you can see bicyclists have their own traffic lights that are placed in the same column but smaller. Some of them have also the bicycle sign above.
And with close-up.

But back to the bicycle trip. So we gathered altogether at the sixth largest square in Europe, that is the Freedom Square in Kharkiv, East Ukraine. The square area is 11.9 ha.
We were around 30 persons. Here on the picture you can see the giant statue of Lenin that gives us guidance for a happy trip! 😉
There are Kharkiv National University, Gosprom Building (the monument of constructivism) and The Military Academy behind the Lenin’s statue.


And we are ready to go!

Our route led through different parts of the city. Thus we wanted to attract the attention of as many as possible drivers to us. Our motto was for tolerance and respect on the road! But sometimes it was difficult to bike because of high polluted air, bad road condition, and absence of bicycle infrastructure.

But despite this we have no losses and have reached the forest park, where he made a time out. It was a perfect place to make a group picture. So here we go, the bicycle heroes, as I call them in Kharkiv.
And some close-up.

By the way the building behind one of the participants is not a crematorium, it is a very famous Kharkiv Opera House.
I think that the degree of mismatch function and the aesthetic image of the building is on a par with the opera house in Copenhagen.

We made also a stop at the Zerkalnaya Struya (a graceful arbor with a small waterfall at its base):  the symbol of Kharkiv, so this trip was also quite informative and educational for me. On the picture below you can see the friend of mine Sergei and me standing proudly at the foot of that small fountain.

Next we drove through the city center, and luckily for us it was Saturday, so there was no traffic congestion. But I still counted enough violations by motorists to see the relevance of our bike ride. It must be noted that the drivers were very surprised by the number of cyclists, as we followed each other. I think that seeing the number of cyclists in Copenhagen (official statistic says that up to 36% of citizens bike), the drivers would have thought that the world has gone mad.

The journey ended near the stadium Metalist, which is completely reconstructed for the European Football Championship. What?  You do not know that Ukraine will be hosting the Euro 2012? By the degree of  football propaganda in Ukraine it can be compared only to the arrival of General Secretary of the Politburo in some seedy former Soviet republic. In Ukraine, everybody knows about Euro 2012, even the tea leaves in tea.

Thus ended our 2-hour bike ride, sometimes extreme, sometimes reckless, that proved once again that the sustainable development of cities has always depends on the position of the inhabitants, and if we want to improve living conditions in the city,we should start with these small but important bottom-up initiatives: biking, sorting house waste, use the public transport, cooperate with each other to improve green areas etc.


I am very pleased that I met the bicycle activists in Kharkiv, and I want to thank them for the invitation to take part in the trip. It was fun and energetic! I want to wish you a safe bicycling, always a good summer weather, and that the city administration begin to build a bicycle paths as soon as possible for you!
Here’s my comic greetings from Copenhagen. Fight for your rights on the road! 🙂

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