St. Petersburg Cycles, We . . . Sleep

So, the St. Petersburg cycling scene was quite different from the London one Dottie wrote about last week. Though we spotted more bikes than we expected to see in a city that doesn’t exactly make cycling easy, there was nary a skirt or Dutch bike in sight.

BMX bandits are alive and well in Petersburg: a cyclist in Moskovskaya Ploschad.

BMX bandits are alive and well in Petersburg: a cyclist in Moskovskaya Ploschad.

No, like so many 80s-90s trends, including the mullet and rollerblades, mountain bikes are hot in St. Petersburg. But given the condition of the roads and sidewalks (which are used regularly by cyclists there) this may be more of a practical choice than a fashionable one.

Oops, open manhole

Oops, open manhole

The only helmets in St. Petersburg

The only helmets in St. Petersburg

Which brings me to the explanation of this post’s title: the number of cyclists on the road grows exponentially after 10 pm or so, as the sun starts to set and the traffic — pedestrian and vehicular — dies down. That’s when the bikes come out. Unfortunately they are more difficult to dodge after a few glasses of vodka, but we managed.

The closest to cycle chic Russia got

The closest to cycle chic Russia got

On our 3:30 a.m. ride to the airport, we probably saw a dozen cyclists (too bad we were too exhausted to take pictures).

Rare sighting - a cyclist not on the sidewalk

Rare sighting - a cyclist not on the sidewalk

I will close with photos of the two other hot Petersburg trends I mentioned — both of which were more numerous than bikes!

Russians love rollerblading!

Russians love rollerblading!

His and hers mullets on Nevsky -- though his was buried under the hooded sweatshirt.

His and hers mullets on Nevsky -- though his was buried under the hooded sweatshirt.

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8 thoughts on “St. Petersburg Cycles, We . . . Sleep

  1. dottie says:

    Aw, sweet memories of times now past – his & hers mullets…

  2. Charlotte says:

    Well, I still dream of visiting St. Petersburg, but it looks like maybe I should bring my own bike. Thank you for the report!

  3. evan, yo! says:

    FYI, that dude is rollerskiing. Nordic skiing isn’t too big in the midwest, so I’d never heard about this until I moved to the Rockies. Rollerskiing is to nordic skiing as riding rollers in the winter is to riding your bike outdoors in the summer. When it gets as cold there as long as it does, a lot of people focus on skiing.

    Looks like you ladies are having fun!

    • Trisha says:

      Yeah, it looked like he was training for skiing, but I didn’t realize it was a completely different thing. Interesting. There were, however, tons of straight up rollerbladers in Petersburg — I just didn’t get their picture. :)

  4. anna says:

    Why are there more bikes at night? Is the public transport not good at night? Interesting observation.

    • Trisha says:

      Dottie might be a better source on this, but I think the Metro runs until almost 2 a.m., which is later than, say London (as I learned when I was there!). My hypothesis was that it is more fun to ride when the streets are empty, and that it is also safer to be on a bike when the streets are empty (It’s legal to drink beer on the street in Russia, and a lot of people take advantage of that), but that is just a guess.

    • dottie says:

      As Trisha said, public transit does close at 2 a.m., but even when we were walking back to our hotel after a fabulous meal at Grand Hotel Europe around midnight, there were a lot of cyclists, mostly on the sidewalks. So then lack of pedestrian and car traffic makes the city much more welcoming. Also, almost every cyclist is young and many are male, so I guess it’s a fun thing to do after dark – less about transportation and more about hanging out.

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