Kazakhstan: Officials Peddle Pedal Power
City hall in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s commercial hub, is leading by example as it attempts to convert the city’s petrol-heads to eco-friendly bicycles.
Timur Bazarbaev, a besuited city hall official, took to two wheels for Almaty TV’s cameras on April 4, following Mayor Baurzhan Baybek’s call to officials in February to leave their cars at home and get on their bicycles to set an example for the good citizens of Almaty.
Bazarbaev recently started cycling to work after being inspired by his colleagues and getting fed up of sitting in Almaty’s notorious traffic jams.
“It’s a little bit hard,” he admitted to Almaty TV. “Our terrain is mountainous with many ups and downs, but overall I believe that it’s convenient, effective and useful.”
Cycling is increasing in popularity in Almaty, but the car still accounts for the majority of commutes.
In recent years, attempts have been made to unclog the city’s main thoroughfares by encouraging more journeys by bicycle. Since 2010 more than 30 kilometers of dedicated bicycle lanes have been laid in the city and Almaty has even introduced a bike share scheme similar to London’s Boris bikes.
In a bid to encourage more pedal power, on April 10 Almaty’s main streets will be turned over to cyclists with a mass cycle ride planned.
And yet, some of the city’s effort to promote cycling have been hampered by poor planning.
Flamboyant TV presenter Adil Liyan recently made the news by grumbling at the way Almaty’s maiden cycle-path, which runs along one of the the city’s main thoroughfares, is inexplicably made impassable at a key junction.
“It is really embarrassing when foreigners see this, they have a good laugh,” Liyan wrote in an Instagram appeal to the Almaty mayor’s office. “Dear @akimat_almaty please get rid of this ridiculous obstacle.”