Hailing a ride in Russia

To an American it seems nuts, but when you think about it it makes perfect sense. In St. Petersburg to get a ride you step into the street and wave at any damn car that comes by. Taxi or not, some cars will stop, you negotiate the cost, and on you go.

My first thought about this, years ago, was: that’s freaking nuts. Who knows who will pick you up. Urban hitchhiking. Cabs for Communists.

But it really is convenient. All a matter of density, really. Think of automobiles moving about the city not as individually-owned but simply as transport from A to B. Chances are good that someone is going somewhere near where you need to be. You’re not hailing a ride to the sticks, most likely. And if the person is not going exactly where you are they (or you) either decline or you get closer to your destination. Let me tell you, for 80% of the year in St. Petersburg this is preferable to slogging through the Arctic bluster.

It’s the ultimate Zipcar, Asimov’s sidewalks on Trantor, and France’s failed Aramis transport all in one. And relatively green too. Perhaps the only environmentally-friendly thing in St. P.

I like.