05 April 2010

Sparking New Ideas for Old St Petersburg

                                   You walk in the street, I'll park on the sidewalk!

I feel in my bones that nowhere in St Petersburg will you find a Suggestion Box.  It is contrary to the way Russians approach  situations.  Инициатива наказана… initiative is punished.  Your ideas are not welcome and may bring you to grief.

It seems that centuries of heavy bureaucracy, oppression, and questionable reward for innovative thinking had a deadening effect.  Russian culture, contrasted with an American point of view, is more likely to interpret new ideas as  simply criticism.. and the reaction is often resistance, not enthusiasm. 

However, if I were governor of SPb I would name an individual the  Idea Czar.  His or her charge would be to seek out ideas from all over the world that at little cost could be implemented  to make our quality of life better.  

Our Idea Czar would have an office with a few researchers.  The budget for this endeavor would be small but could have a big effect.

A lot of great ideas for urban living can be found on the Internet.  Once something worthwhile to investigate is spotted, the Czar could hop a plane to another city, seeing first hand whether this idea would be worthwhile and transplantible to St Petersburg.

How about  specifics?
  A meter maid system to ticket improperly parked cars.  

  It has become the custom here for many to drive their cars halfway over the curb onto the courtyard sidewalks to park them for a few hours or overnight.  The militsia don’t give tickets so the pedestrians lose their sidewalk to boorish drivers. 

  Paris had this problem in the 1960’s.  They solved it with stone pillars placed so cars can no longer pull up on the sidewalks.

  City government has largely ignored this growing problem of where to park cars… and has lost  revenue from inaction.  A start would be to study City Parking Solutions http://blog.t2systems.com/blog/city-parking-solutions

  Retroactive building codes for handrails, their purchase and installation paid by landlords. 

Many places have few handrails... stores, apartments, hospitals, making it difficult for the old folks particularly.

  Anti-icicle methods and research from other cities.  Thousand of city workers clear snow and ice from St Petersburg roofs every winter.  This labor is dangerous, and the icicles have proved deadly in the downtown area.

Volunteer encouragement

Many great ideas can be garnered not only from other city governments, but also from volunteers in other cities who provide services in a more economical and personal way than government  sometimes can.

In Russia, volunteer and donate are words you rarely hear.  Volunteerism hasn’t taken hold except among the expat community that is in the habit of volunteering in their native countries.

A few of the volunteer efforts I would hope to see…

  A network of Senior Centers across the city.

  Meals on Wheels

  Friendly Visitor

  Memorial donations program for benches

  Volunteer city greeters at the airport and train stations

In the tradition of Peter the Great

Peter brought innovation from Europe to Russia.  He encouraged his nobles to travel and study in the West to gain an appreciation of how other places operated.  St Petersburg is the ideal place to start a search for good ideas, yet again!

So, why not share an idea you like from your travels or in the town where you live that may be good for St Petersburg?

If you click the Title at the top or click 5.4.10 just below, a Comment Window will open, to be found when you scroll down. 



  1. Great system here (Spain) you pay the town hall a small fee, if someone parks over your drive you can call the tow away truck. Driver has to pay the tow away costs and a fine. Not many people park over driveways.

  2. Hello Rob!

    That's a great system you have in Spain! I guess it's sort of like a subscription that makes the tow away available when needed. I will forward this idea via email contact to St Petersburg townhall.

    Maybe we'll get a response. A month or so ago I emailed a request for removal of some abandoned cars... and nothing happened.

    I appreciate that you add thoughts when visiting!


Comments, Questions, Ideas