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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Getting Out of the Jam

We've all been there: seated helplessly behind the steering wheel while your car crawls to a halt on a Moscow highway.

Traffic congestion is the bane of Moscow. So daunting is the problem that Mayor Yury Luzhkov has flirted with the idea of launching an air taxi service so businesspeople can hop into small planes or helicopters to avoid being stuck in traffic jams.

The average Moscow motorist spends about 24 hours per month on the road, half of which is in traffic jams, according to City Hall's transportation and communications department.

One-third of Moscow residents own cars, which means more than 3 million vehicles are registered in the city. Add to that the thousands of cars from the surrounding Moscow region and other areas, and you've got a problem on the city's 4,525 kilometers of surfaced roads.

What's Behind the Jams

The reasons for traffic jams are as varied as the car models on the roads: a malfunctioning traffic light, an accident, a broken-down vehicle.

What to always remember is that on Moscow roads, to paraphrase George Orwell, some cars are more equal than others.

Unlike New York, which is built on a grid pattern, Moscow is encircled by four radial-circular roads -- the Boulevard Ring, the Garden Ring, the Third Ring and the Outer Ring. The city's super-charged center of commerce is entrenched within the innermost ring.

Where To Find Them

On weekdays, traffic jams are ubiquitous on Moscow roads -- which in itself makes it difficult to offer advice on where to find them. However, there are spots in the city that are simply notorious, and you would be wise to avoid them.

There is no way to avoid traffic jams if your route takes you through Shosse Entuziastov-the Third Ring Road, Aviamotornaya Ulitsa-Balashikha, Ryazanskoye Shosse-Volgogradskoye Shosse or Zelenogradskoye Shosse-Zhigulyovskaya Ulitsa. These areas are perpetually in gridlock, and during rush hours, vehicles can stretch for kilometers. You'll need a pinch of luck to be through in less than four hours.

By varying degrees, Yaroslavskoye Shosse, Kashirskoye Shosse and the Third Ring Road are always locked by traffic jams during peak hours on workdays.

Besides downtown Moscow, the Kursky Station stretch of the Garden Ring Road and Leningradskoye Shosse are also known for daylong jams.

How to Avoid Them

Igor Tabakov / MT
Smilink Information staff tracking traffic jams and relaying the details to clients.
Itching to go downtown in your car? Fire up your computer and hit the keyboard first. A myriad of web sites provide free-of-charge information on live traffic conditions in Moscow.

One of the most easy-to-use sites is Yandex maps at, which shows current information with driving conditions on all the major roads in Moscow. The map highlights routes with traffic jams and shows the locations and directions of slow traffic.

For each highlighted section of the road, additional data is provided -- like the length of the jam and how long it has lasted. There is also an option to view and print traffic jam information.

Some 150,000 Moscow residents visit the site daily, said Yandex editor Yelena Kolmanovskaya. The site opened last year.

Another web site,, features a very detailed overview of the city that often can show the traffic situation outside any given building. The downside is that, unlike, which refreshes its data every other minute, does so every 15 minutes.

Other web sites include Avtoradio (, whose motto is "A nice way to stand still." It offers information on "traffic jams this minute."

KM ( holds a traffic jam forum for those wishing to vent anger at those responsible for road management. A lawyer serves as moderator to kick off anyone who crosses the line.

Roads.Ru 9 ( probki/index.php) is something of an online newsmagazine that supplies information about anything concerning roads and also provides live traffic jam information in a scrolling marquee.

Electronic Toys

In his Ulitsa Dubovaya Roshcha office, Pavel Goldin and about 20 analysts, controllers and technicians spend their days inventing ways to make life easier for motorists.

"The saving grace is that, if anything, technology has caught up with and overtaken traffic jams," said Goldin, head of Smilink Information Agency, the undisputed leader in the market for paid traffic jam information.

Smilink's offerings include gadgets with names like the Universal Information Receiver, the Road Informer, AutoNavi, JMap and Carman-i.

The UPI, which sells for 14,000 rubles, is the most popular. It relays live information about traffic jams to a user's desktop or pocket computer. It can also connect the user to Moscow maps.

In addition to information about traffic congestion, the device gives traffic news, currency rates and the weather.

But at the end of the day, leaving two hours early to beat traffic jams on the way to the airport is probably wiser -- and cheaper -- than relying on a gadget.