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The Rubinshteina street could be made pedestrian


Public organizations of St. Petersburg are petitioning to make the Rubinshteina street pedestrian. More than 7 thousand people have already put their signatures. Alexander Odintsov gathered the pros and contras.


The only sound you can hear on the street named after the famous composer is car honking. Throughout its entire history – first as the Golovin alleyway, then the Troitskiy alleyway and then the Rubinshteina street – it has been open to transport. Pedestrians peacefully shared the passage with carriages and the first automobiles. But now cars have not only filled all available space – they have literally consumed this self-cultivated cultural oasis.

Alexey Erofeev, historian: “John Reed, the writer of “10 days which shook the world” lived here. And also Sergey Dovlatov – the iconic writer of modern days. 

Besides, it is here at the Rubinshteina street, within the walls of the Leningradskiy rock club, where the “Kino” and the “Alisa” rock bands had their first gigs. 

Also here is the famous Tolstoy house, which had appeared in several movies, and the “Commune house of engineers and writers”, built in the early constructivism style, where Olga Berggoltz lived. In Soviet times, its household inconveniences earned it a nickname “the tear of socialism”. Nowadays, the street’s outlook creates similar emotions with members of public organizations.

The Rubinshteina street is the modern hangout of gourmets. There’s a restaurant here literally every 10 meters. Musician Billie Novik co-owns several of them. He actively supports the “pedestrianization” of the street - this would be a massive boost for business.

Billie Novik, co-owner of restaurants: “If we talk about restaurant clientele, there’s no chance for them to park their cars here anyway. There’s always a mess here. Cars stand everywhere and no-one can get through. Most of our customers come here without cars” 

Just a few meters from Novak’s restaurant is a totally different place. The theatre’s director supports a completely opposite view.

Alexander Petrov, artistic director of the “Zazerkalye” theatre: “We are strongly against this idea. A pedestrian zone would make our life – as a theatre – impossible. We are an organization which sells its product – and we need the street to deliver theatrical equipment and so that buses with children can park here”.

Petrov is confident that director of another theatre will share his stance. In a building across the road is MDT – the theatre of Europe. Keeping the road open for transport is also strategically important for it. Despite that the passage to the Nevskiy Avenue will be closed, specialists say adjoining streets will easily handle the transport flow.

Mila-Mariya Goryacheva, press secretary of “Directorate of organizing traffic in St. Petersburg”: “The traffic intensity is not high – it is diverted to the Vladimirskiy avenue. Car owners will not be affected much, but I stress – you wouldn’t be able to drive there. Parking spaces will be completely removed from the Rubinshteina street”

There are no alternatives to current parking spaces – and it’s difficult to imagine any. That’s why car owners residing in the area may also oppose the initiative. Not only they would have to reach their homes on foot, but also they would have to look for a place to park their cars every day. Analysts and economists believe that the best solution here is to make the street pedestrian only during certain seasons. 

Andrey Kosarev, CEO of a consulting company: “From October to April, the tourist flow is much lower and restaurants have no open terraces. There is an idea to make it pedestrian from May to September”

Alexander Odintsov, correspondent: “The current pedestrian zones have enjoyed different fate. Those freed from transport – like Malaya Sadovaya street and the 6th and the 7th lines of the Vasilyevskiy island – have definitely profited from it and the areas have become more prestigious. It’s possible, that the Rubinshteina street will follow in the footsteps of the Pravda and Bolshaya Moskovskaya streets. Here, cars used to drive too – now there’s only one lane for transport and wide space for pedestrians. In any case, all pros and contras would still be considered”

Correspondent: Alexander Odintsov
Cameraman: Fanis Aglyamov