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Almaty city to become more people-friendly

25 november 2013, 19:29
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©AFP
©AFP
Ian Gale. ©archinfo.ru
Ian Gale. ©archinfo.ru
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©Yaroslav Radlovsky
©AFP
©AFP
Almaty city will become a more people-friendly place: conditions for pedestrians and bicycle traffic will be improved, Tengrinews reports.

World famous architect and urban design consultant Ian Gale presented his projects at the Almaty's Akimat (City Hall) on November 21. He used to work on design improvements of the world biggest cities like London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Moscow. In his native city of Copenhagen the architect focused on creation of conditions for comfortable time spending and removing disorderly parking from streets .

Ian Gale says there are a lot of elderly people and little children in the streets of Copenhagen, which means that the city is people-friendly. It is convenient for walking and safe for cycling. The number of cars has been cut in half and 37% of the population uses bicycles to get to work.

Mayors of the large cities asked the architect to develop similar designs for their cities. Gale believes that every country or city has its Transport Department manage traffic flows and streets, but there is no administration working to improve people-friendliness of the streets -- no Pedestrians Department. More and more cities are becoming overwhelmed with cars, the climate is changing sharply, people move less and spend a lot of money on healthcare.

Ian Gale arrived to Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest southern city, last week. He drove through the streets of Almaty and declared his conclusion in a meeting with Almaty's Akim (Mayor) Akhmetzhan Yessimov. "Your city has a large potential. It is good that it has wide streets; it means they may be divided into a pedestrian alley, cycling track and traffic road. I would like to point out that Almaty is a green city. Having a lot of trees is a huge advantage. But when I arrived there was a lot of snow and didn't see anything green, however it is still beautiful. Talking with Almaty's Mayor I understood that cycling is being promoted in the city," Gale shared.

The architect is going to visit Almaty again in summer. Perhaps, the authorities will hire him as a chief consultant to improve the urban design and create better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in Almaty. Gale believes that the number of places such as parks and garden squares, shopping streets and so on, where people can sit down and rest, get together and talk, should be increased.

After listening to Gale Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov said that he was interested in the presented projects and the cooperation will be continued in the nearest future.

Yessimov pointed out one drawback that is greatly encumbering Almaty. It is in the residents’ mentality to park cars at the roadside even if there are paid and guarded underground parking lots nearby. The authorities are going to change this in 2014. They are going to introduce fees on parking all over the city and the price will be higher than that of the underground parkings.

"We have parking lots under Almaly mall (in the central square). But still the square near the mall is full of cars. The same happens near the National Palace. There is also a paid parking where cars are sheltered from rain and snow and guarded, but still people prefer to leave their cars out in the streets. This issue requires an immediate solution, and in 2014 the problem will be no longer. We will introduce a fee," Yessimov said.

He also pointed out that there were plans to make Panfilov street pedestrian, similar to the alley known as Arbat. The authorities want to ban access and parking for cars on Panfilov street and make it a pedestrian zone with a lot of plants.

"And what concerns the cycling culture. Of course, we don't have 37% cycling to work as in Copenhagen, we don't have even 3%. But I'm glad that the number of cyclists is growing. Over the last 5 years the sales in cycling shops grew 6-fold, and a lot of cycling repair shops have been opened. We are negotiating with banks the introduction of cycling parking places where parking fee can be paid with a card, as well as bicycle renting networks so that people could take a bicycle in place and return it in a different place. I think this will be convenient."

Ian Gale said that it would be a please for him to work on Almaty's design.


By Roza Yesenkulova

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