Because Ideas Have Consequences

Practical Ideas to improve the quality of life of the city of Almaty

Public Parks and Recreation

Public parks can offer the community a place for relaxation and recreation. The city government of Almaty should create a Parks and Recreation Division which would be responsible for the development of such parks and for community events utilizing these parks. Such parks may host community events such as festivals, concerts, and exhibitions. Finally, the Parks and Recreation Department could implement community sports leagues for adults and children. Small participation fees can finance referees and other administrative costs.

The parks should be serviced daily for trash pickup, and kept in good condition. The parks should be policed to help ensure that they are an ideal atmosphere for families to bring their children. Parks should also be free and open to the public. Perhaps a small entrance fee for a swimming pool could assist to support proper maintenance.

A good Parks and Recreation Division is an invaluable asset to a city. Communities with good parks and community programs for children will be stronger and happier communities. This will result in greater satisfaction in living standards, decrease crime and delinquency, and make a city attractive to new business and investment.

Activities public parks could offer the community could include:

  • walking trails
  • skateboard parks
  • bike trails
  • basketball courts
  • soccer fields
  • volleyball courts
  • badminton courts
  • public swimming pool
  • picnic areas
  • dog walking areas
  • botanical gardens
  • outdoor theatres for community concerts and festivals

City Beautification

Honestly, Almaty is not a clean city and therefore is unattractive. The litter lying on streets only encourages others to also litter, feeling a sense of “what’s the use?” Here are some practical suggestions which can help correct and manage this problem:

  • Public advertisements and commercials should be shown to encourage people to deposit litter in garbage bins. People need to be trained to understand that this is their city and their home
  • Community trash pickup days should be held one Saturday per month until the problem is improved. School and community organizations should be encouraged to participate
  • Institute prison work programs (minor offenders) for trash pick ups at parks
  • Community block cleanup and beautification competitions
  • Strict litter laws
    • Police should cite people for littering.
    • Uniformed police should patrol parks and fine people littering.
  • Paint apartment buildings attractive colors including roofs

Air quality

Almaty is rated as one of the worst air pollution cities in the world. As the mountains further complicate free movement of air, this must be managed. Here are some suggestions:

  • Strictly enforced clean air emissions standards for automobiles, public vans and buses, and commercial trucks. Vehicles failing clean air emissions should be barred from traffic
  • Strictly enforced clean air standards for factories
  • Strictly forbidding burning trash and leaves within city limits
  • Seek to implement environmental friendly alternatives for power, such as nuclear power and electric transportation
  • Almaty has a very serious traffic congestion problem which significantly contributes to pollution. Free flowing traffic results in substantially less emissions than stopped or slow moving traffic

Roadway Traffic

Almaty has experienced an average of a 29% increase in automobile traffic for the past six years straight. This has resulted in substantially increased and carbon dioxide emissions, which will have serious long term adverse health consequences if not corrected. Traffic accident rates are alarming. Finally, people spend substantial time of their working day simply traveling to and from work.

In addition to employing strict clean air emissions, better transportation infrastructure must be developed to address this problem. Traffic congestion results in greater gaseous emissions than free flowing traffic. The epidemic traffic congestion is also resulting in substantial increases in traffic accidents and loss of life. Finally, traffic congestion causes motorist fatigue and frustration which can result in unsafe operation. Almaty needs to alleviate this problem through a multi-faceted approach.

  1. The development of a convenient metro system. (in progress)
  2. The development of express highway thorough fares around and through the city. This would consist of 4-6 lane divided highways which are only accessed through entrance and exit ramps. These roads are without traffic lights, stop signs, and through the city may be elevated. This will eliminate as much as 35% of traffic on most major streets which are simply traveling through the city to get from one end to the other, as in the case of Abia Street for example.
  3. I would recommend the development of an elevated rail system along Abia Street, similar to that of Bangkok. Substantial numbers of people travel this route daily and such route would alleviate substantial traffic along Abai Street.
  4. The development of express regional commuter train routes to connect key stops within the city. An example commuter train may offer service along the following route: Talgar, Almaty International Airport, Abai / Dostyk Street, Central Stadium area, Abai / Rozabakieva Streets, Jetisu, Kaskalen, etc.
  5. Building multi-level parking garages within strategic locations to alleviate parking on streets. Parking garages in newly developed business areas may have attached “skywalks”, where individuals may be able to walk from their car to a building without walking outdoors
  6. Traffic flow can be improved by:
    • implementing pedestrian crossing signals which allow 15 seconds for pedestrians to cross an intersection first
    • turning signals to alleviate high volume turning traffic
    • separate timed programs customized for rush hour traffic patterns
  7. Public transportation
    • bus stops should have spacious receded parking lanes for buses to pull off for servicing passengers.
    • buses and vans must be prohibited from stopping in traffic lanes to service passengers.
    • Buses and vans must also be prohibited from servicing passengers in areas outside of bus stops.
  8. Improved crosswalks
    • Crosswalks in high speed roadways must be by bridge, tunnel, or at traffic light only
    • crosswalks must be clearly marked with overhead flashing warning light indicators which are activated by pedestrians pressing a button before they intend to cross
    • jaywalking must be prohibited (pedestrians crossing streets outside of crosswalk zones)
    • Implement an ad campaign to promote safe and courteous driving practices
    • All drivers must be properly trained in order to receive a license. Fraudulent license issuance must be strictly prosecuted. Sting operations should be implemented to locate and prosecute violators
    • The practice of giving special privileges and immunities to certain drivers based on tags must be prohibited, including governmental vehicles. Such practice undermines the legal system and encourages others to disregard policing efforts, dismissing police as corrupt
  9. Traffic laws
    • Taxis and private cars seeking to be taxis must stop only at specified taxi zones. Taxi zones could be marked just past bus stops
    • Implement plain clothes anti-corruption police sting operations to prosecute police officers seeking bribes. This is critical because the failure of police to abide by rule of law instead seeking bribes in undermining the entire authority of the entire police force. Motorists are failing to stop and heed police directives because they are viewed not as police, but rather as criminals in police uniform simply using their position to extort bribes. This is critical for good policing of roadways
    • Institute police patrol cars to cite moving violations, signal violations, driving outside lanes, improper lane change, unsafe operation of motor vehicle, etc.
    • Institute foot patrols for ticketing cars with parking violations
    • Strictly enforce no parking or stopping zones. Parking or stopping on the street must be forbidden on narrow city streets which causes restricted traffic flow.
    • Vehicles must not block intersections. This results in gridlock.
    • When traffic lights are idle at night, the sequence must be changed to where the right-a-way road is flashing yellow, and the crossing road is flashing red. A flashing yellow grants right of way with caution. Flashing red requires a complete stop and proceeding when clear. The current sequence of all directions flashing yellow is extremely dangerous. It presumes all drivers know right-a-way, which is a false assumption.
    • When traffic lights are not operational due to power outage, four way stop protocols should be employed. This requires that all vehicles come to a complete stop and alternative passage in order, giving vehicles to the right preference.
    • Vehicles must pull over in the event of emergency vehicle sirens. Unauthorized siren use must be strictly punished.
    • Motorists should be encouraged to drive courteously, merging where necessary. Merging requires that vehicles take turns in order to form one line if needed.

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