Gorky Park – Stoyanka (Car Park)

January 31st, 2016 Sections: Bishkek, Life In Kyrgyzstan
Parking Place

Parking Place

Everyday I walk from my apartment and the Hotel … and back – some days, several times.

It’s not far – and takes about 10 minutes.  The most direct route takes me  through Gorky Park – which is really little more than a square that is criss-crossed by footpaths, separating grassed areas with trees and bushes scattered around, and some flower beds which can look quite attrative when their roses come into bloom.

It gets its name from the red granite statue in the center of the park of the famous Soviet writer … Maxim Gorky.

Most of the time, there are few people in the  park (square). Although there are benches round the central square and two of the footpaths on which people sit and pass the time of day … most people, (like me), simply walk through the park, using it as a short cut on their way from A to B.  Sometimes, especially in the early mornings, there are groups of schoolchildren having a PhysEd lesson … running round the perimeter … with a teacher shouting encouragement and urging them on – especially those stragglers who may have slowed to a walking pace.

The statue of Maxim Gorky from which Gorky Park derives its name.

The statue of Maxim Gorky from which Gorky Park derives its name.

Just occasionally the park (square) plays host to a small group of people gathered around a handwritten banner – protesting some point or other … and very occasionally a much larger crowd will gather and a platform erected from which speakers can address the assembled mass.   Some years ago, (after the Tulip Revolution in 2005), in an attempt to limit the number of protests outside the White House, in the main Ala Too Square, the government designated the Gorky Park as to place to host such protest rallies … as a sort of ‘Speakers Corner’.

The move didn’t really work … Whereas Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park is located on the edge of a busy park, near an intersection of major highways, with a long and cherished history of playing host to regular speakers spouting forth on different subjects – often vying with each other for the attention of the passing crowds … Gorky Park, although it is in the city center,  is a little out of the way – tucked away away from the main thoroughfares and its selection seemed to be an arbitrary decision, … and so protesters feel (probably – rightly) that they are being sidelined.

Last week, however, the park (square) seems to have acquired a new lease of life – a new purpose – a new role … this time, as a car park.

Maxim came to see me in the hotel on Friday and told me that someone had parked a car in the central part of the square … when he left, it had been joined by several others.  When I went home in the evening, and passed through the park myself, I noticed that the number of cars parked in the square was already in double figures.

There were cars parked on both sides of the road skirting around the park … and even on the footpath, (sidewalk), but that didn’t surprise me because that is often the case … just opposite the park are two very popular cafes and the clientele often park their vehicles as close to them as possible.  What was surprising was that, now people were driving into the central portion of the square and parking, (double parking, even), in the open space in front of the statue of Maxim Gorky.

I couldn’t help thinking – Thank goodness that there are only two cafes … because if there any more, there wouldn’t be any space for the customers to park.  On the other hand, there are several large construction projects in the immediate neighbourhood and it is difficult to see where the residents in these new ‘elite’ apartment blocks are going to be able to park their cars – yet alone visitors to the offices and customers of the various shops that part of the design, are going to be able to park.

Surely the pedestrian pathways of a park should be designated as 'No Parking' zones

Surely the pedestrian pathways of a park should be designated as ‘No Parking’ zones

The traffic congestion in the city center has long been a hot topic of conversation … with the City’s Architectural department being criticized for not planning provision for sufficient parking spaces  … (to be fair, they have tried to require new planning applications to include parking provision … but it’s not always easy to enforce such requirements).

There have also been suggestions to try and limit the number of vehicles in the city … to ban vehicles from the city center except for those that are registered to residents within the city.  That, of course, will require some considerable improvement in public transport provision … which has also been the subject of much criticism recently …  to enable a Park and Ride scheme to be effective.

At the moment, however, no-one seems to have come up with the suggestion of a Congestion Charge as in London or Singapore … but I suspect it won’t be long before someone thinks of it … especially if the plans for street cams and video surveillance are successfully implemented.



There are 2 comments. to “Gorky Park – Stoyanka (Car Park)”

  1. ian
    January 31st, 2016 at 14:07

    Six o’clock this morning and there were no cars … six hours later, when I returned home for lunch, there were already six cars standing … and that was in the middle of the day!

    • ian
      February 11th, 2016 at 09:14

      The council seem to be addressing the problem … they’ve installed bollards (metal posts) in the center of the pathways to stop driving into the center of the park.

      Malodets! – well done!

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