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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Icy Streets: We Won't Stand for It

If you want to watch ice dancing, you do not have to go to the European Championships in Copenhagen. All you need do is stand in any central Moscow street. In 10 minutes you will see more extraordinary twists, turns, pirouettes and artistic maneuvers than in hours of programs danced by the professionals.


The difference is, of course, that the street stunts are unintentional and not normally accompanied by music. None of us mean to go out and turn spectacular glissandos for the amusement of passersby; it is just that when we get out on the sidewalk our feet can't help dancing. And slipping.


These impromptu displays have not been produced by a sudden outbreak of euphoria in the city, but by conditions underfoot being slippery beyond belief.


Some people are blaming Mayor Yury Luzhkov, saying city services were better in the good old days. Others say things were always this bad in the bad winter years.


But whether it's Luzhkov or whether it's God, the fact remains that alternating warm and cold spells have laid down thick undulating sheets of ice that have then been burnished by a million feet to the kind of shiny finish that polishers take a lifetime to achieve. And the sidewalks have been left without salt or sand.


The resulting toll of broken arms, wrists, hips and ribs is enough to bring a gleam to the eye of the most downhearted orthopedic surgeon. While we wish these limb men-ders no ill will (or no more than they wish us), we feel it is our duty to examine ways in which their workload could be reduced.


Some people might think the answer lies in footwear. After all, this is now a country where citizens are supposed to be learning how to stand on their own two feet. But alas, at present this is no easier in the literal sense than the metaphorical.


A brief survey on the perilous rink that is the walkway outside the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall failed to spot any footwear with tread adhesive enough to grip that surface. Even pedestrians with soles on their boots that looked like Goodyear truck tires were flailing about like drunks in a hurricane.


A colleague thought he had the answer when he experimented successfully with spiked golf shoes; but his triumph evaporated when he stepped off the ice and onto the marble floors of the metro. Not only did he look stupid, he sounded stupid too.


So what are the options? Stay indoors? Dress like Jack Nicklaus and avoid the metro? Well, call us eccentric if you like, but how about the city providing some serious amounts of grit, sand, salt and shovels for the sidewalk -- and hiring a few more people to put it to good effect. Long-time residents will tell you that it's an old trick, but it might just work.