A few years ago I joined a ‘bike parade’ in Kyiv as part of the national bike day. Back then a few hundred cyclists met in the centre, did a short tour and then peddled over to Truhaniv Island for a bike-picnic.
It was nice, but not really significant and cycling was still seen as a fringe sport for weirdos or people who couldn’t afford a car.
Since then, I haven’t seen or participated in any bike events in Kyiv, but post Maidan I have witnessed a huge boom in the popularity of cycling and the gradual establishment of a cycling movement which looks set to revolutionise the streets of Kyiv.
I decided to join the fun and so, as a proud new member of the Ukrainian Cyclists Association I decided to join this years event.
It coincided with Kyiv day (yes Kyiv has a day too) and it was the start of spring so Kyiv was quiet and sunny – a great day for cycling.
It was a BIG event! There were literally thousands of bikes. Kreshatik (Kyiv’s main street) was closed for a bike race and everywhere you went there were people-powered pedalling machines.
There were …
- Kids on bikes
- Bemused shop keepers, street cleaners and police officers (mostly smoking) and watching the cyclists
- Vyshevankas on bikes
- Pravy sektor on bikes (just to make sure that RT.com could label all cyclists as fascists)
- ‘Normal’ bikes
- Mountain bikes
- Racing bikes
- Touring bikes
- Flat Lie-down bikes
- Cruising bikes playing System of the Down
- Belarusians on bikes
- People drinking beer on bikes
- Company-sponsored groups of bikes
- …and even a man smoking a pipe on a bike!
It was an impressive sight and I was happy to be part of the day. It’s hard not to see this as part of a broader ‘Europeanisation’ of Ukraine (yeah that word is ridiculous but its relevant) and it will be interesting how far and how fast Ukraine moves to support its new cyclists.
Also, there were still a few things missing from the day…
Police on bikes
Bike lanes for bikes
Politicians on bikes
Army men on bikes
So maybe they’ll be ready for next year.
On to Troeshina
Following the crowds down to Truhaniv island, I wanted to see how far I could go along the islands and (if possible) across to Kyiv’s left bank.
This means crossing the footbridge onto the island and then heading north on the road that runs through the island. this road takes to you Moscovski bridge (that name wont last long) and then you cross onto the top half of the island. This top half is even more delightful than the bottom half of Truhaniv and I found myself cycling through meadows that could easily have been in England. Eventually you pass some Soviet era (but cute) holiday camps and if you persevere like me – you’ll cross a little bridge and find yourself on the left bank somewhere near Troeshina. It’s a pretty weird place, even by Ukrainian standards, but its interesting in a village-meets-city kind of way. There were no other cyclists by this point other than a few local dedushkas (old men), but there are paths to cycle on and its pretty easy to find Moscovski bridge again from here (just follow the river).
Bring on bike day 2016!