The constantly evolving PIN-MIX movement represents a rare example of an autonomous club-cum-community in Russia; not only has this movement achieved its internal goals, it has also started to exert an influence on city life.
You hear the chatter of a large crowd and music thrumming from portable speakers. A couple of minutes later its tail flickers out of view, and, save for a few gawping passers-by, the square empties out. The square is dotted with bikes.
In the column of cyclists, everyone is rendered equal, with nothing but their bikes to battle against road, night and headwind. In the dark, every week, whatever the weather.
Cycle moscow to st petersburg
And there are s that the city government is slowly paying attention: earlier this year a few kilometres of cycle lanes opened in the outskirts, and a city bike system with dock stations is growing. Like Tweet. Departing from Palace Square at midnight, riders follow a predetermined route of between 25 and 90km, returning to the square in the early hours of the morning.
It was through a kind of self-overcoming that I became capable of it all. The route creators are people with divergent interests and backgrounds, which is exactly why PIN-MIX can help you get new and unexpected insights into the city and penetrate its secret recesses. Then suddenly everything jumps into motion: the crowd of figures and lights fuses into one long neon serpent that begins to coil itself around the Alexander Column, then slithers away onto Millionnaya Street, its head disappearing round the corner.
A huge group of cyclists, however well-organised, will invariably have an impact on road traffic. Generally, the Petersburg authorities are pretty well disposed to cycling events, sometimes briefly blocking off intersections or escorting the column with flashing lights — compensation, perhaps, for the lack of cycle lanes in the city. If the current state of affairs in the country is anything to go by, however, that time is a long way off yet.
Special thanks to Alexander Rotov. The idea behind communal nocturnal rides was borrowed from events in Berlin and Paris and similar movements exist in cities worldwide.
Participants treat events as cornucopias offering much to meet their desires: group riding; thousands of like-minded people; a traffic-free playground of a city; journeys across St Petersburg and beyond; and nocturnal adventure. Some regard nocturnal winter cycling as an extreme adventure or endurance test.
If the bike were ever to become a commonplace mode of transport in Russia, PIN-MIX might lose its function as an escape outlet for urban cyclists and metamorphose, say, into a predictable series of themed excursions. Aglitter among the black silhouettes — some immobile, some moving back and forth — is a multitude of red and white lights. People flitter past.