St Petersburg celebrates the old new year with a Christmasy bike parade

(Photo credit: Till Rimmele)

More than 200 Ded Moroz and Snow Maidens jumped on their bikes today for an unusual bike parade

By Francesca Visser & Shima Vezvaei 

Today, the normally bike-unfriendly streets of St Petersburg were filled with more than 200 cyclists who dressed up as Ded Moroz (Santa Claus) and Snow Maidens and biked for almost six km in a rather unusual bike parade. The Ded Moroz and Snow Maidens bike parade has now become an annual winter tradition of the city, which is aimed at showing that cycling in the snowy streets of St Petersburg is not only possible but also fun. Although lacking any sort of agreement with the city authorities, the event took place rather smoothly with only one condition imposed by the police: the cyclists were to cycle in small groups along the streets in order to avoid an otherwise illegal gathering of people.

“I occasionally bike to work, especially during spring and summer so for me this event itself wasn’t a big thing. But since I follow the activities of this group on VKontakte and Instagram, I thought they deserve my support so I borrowed this Santa hat from my friend and decided to participate at the last minute,” says Vadim, one of the participants.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s way more difficult to cycle in the snow but that’s the challenge and sharing it with others makes it way more fun! It’s just the best way to end the holiday season,” says Aglaya.

Cyclists then finished at the Palace Square to share their experience with each other and participate in a fun photoshoot.

This year, St Petersburg will see also the construction of the first bike lane on the city centre. The project proposed from a citizen initiative in 2016, won 4.5 million roubles funding that will be devolved to constructing a bike lane along the Fontanka embankment.

“Biking infrastructures in St Petersburg are still rather poor and quite behind in comparison with other European cities but we are getting better,” says Stanislav Ivanov, one of the organizers of the parade.

Current bike infrastructures in St Petersburg consist of a total of 25 kilometres of bike lane, mostly situated in parks or outside the city centre. This figure is rather small if compared with other northern cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen which despite their smaller dimensions have a bike infrastructure that covers an area bigger than 400 kilometres, allowing bikes to become the most common mean of transportation inside the city.

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