Panel Discussion "Street: A Transit Area or a Social Life Space" Panel Discussion

Moscow, 16 October 2015, Moscow Urban Forum 2015 — As a part of Moscow Urban Forum 2015, Hall A of the Manege Central Exhibition Hall hosted the panel discussion "Street: A Transit Area or a Social Life Space" supervised by Strelka Design Bureau, with participation of Petr Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Housing, Utilities, and Improvement. Darya Radchenko, Deputy Head of the Centre for Urban Anthropology Strelka Design Bureau, acted as a moderator.The primary question at the panel discussion was one of the main goals of the development of Moscow—that is, "the creation of a convenient, high-quality, improved, and comfortable environment, primarily for the city's residents" (from the programme "Moscow, a Habitable City"). In the experts' opinion, streets comprise a major part of the urban environment since their territories occupy about 12.4 per cent of the capital's area within the Moscow Ring Road, and lately they have been hubs of city dwellers' activity.

 

Panellists discussed a one-of-a-kind programme that had been implemented by the Moscow Government to improve the city called "My Street." According to the programme's plan, over two thousand streets of the capital are to be improved by 2019. Problems requiring priority resolution:

  • Overcoming the imbalance between different types of movement (primarily, between pedestrian and vehicular traffic)
  • Improving accessibility and safety as well as recognisability of the streets
  • Ensuring comfortable conditions when spending time in the open air at different times of the day and in different seasons
  • Regulating parking spaces

"My Street" programme is the largest urban improvement project in the entire history of the city, said Peter Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of the Moscow Government for Housing and Utility Services and Urban Development. Five years ago, the new government of the city focused its attention on the areas that are not bought or sold – the public spaces. The public space, not the private development, is the new face of Moscow under Sergey Sobyanin. While on the first stage of its development (2011–2015) the parks were the synonym of the public space in Moscow, today, the streets are coming to the forefront. Over the five years, the Russian capital managed to radically change its development vector and urban development ideology.

 

According to Petr Biryukov, the city made a shift from the "streets for the cars" to the "streets for the people" by making the streets a public space. The reconstruction of streets allowed to clean up the urban environment from unwanted layers and improve the visual image of Moscow.

 

Alexey Muratov, a Partner at Strelka KB, thinks that the streets in Moscow are not used effectively and have a hybrid nature that combines the attributes of outbound routes and pedestrian areas. High-speed roads must be separated from housing development area, and the streets should become a public space, believes Mikhail Blinkin, Head of the Institute of Transport Economics and Transport Policy Studies of the Higher School of Economics National Research University. The major question is where to shift the current traffic from Moscow streets? In the opinion of Mikhail Blinkin, the density of the road network in Moscow is not adequate for the needs of motorists.

 

Final theses of the panel discussion "Street: A Transit Area or a Social Life Space":

  • "My Street" programme is a technological step forward. Such large-scale transformation of the streets is happening for the first time in the history of Moscow. The difference of Moscow from other cities is that the new image of its streets is not implemented in an evolutionary way but in a comprehensive and systemic manner.
  • During the reconstruction of its streets, Moscow tries to maintain the balance between the interests of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists without harming the overall mobility.

The Moscow Urban Forum is being held under the auspices of the Government of Moscow with Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin present in person. The Forum is organised by ANO Moscow Urban Forum. The Moscow Urban Forum was held for the first time in 2011. The Forum was planned to be a venue for dialogue, where the authorities, experts, investors, and business representatives could openly discuss new challenges, trends, and key events of national and global urbanism and city planning. Over the years, the Forum has become a reference point for new projects and initiatives of the Moscow Government directed to all-round development of the megacity, stimulating quality changes in our capital city and spreading the best practices across the country and globally.