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Got an Urban Infrastructure Issue? Make the Bureaucrat Work!

10:45 AM EDT on August 7, 2012

The problem of inadequate infrastructure is not unique to the United States. Nor is the scourge of political dysfunction that leaves commuters stranded waiting for the next bus, pedestrians sprinting across eight lanes of traffic, and motorists stuck in gridlock.

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It may not be the first place you'd look for guerrilla-style protest, but in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, the people are assigning responsibility by attaching human faces -- specifically, those of government officials -- to such urban problems. And they're seeing results.

Network blog This Big City reports:

“Make the bureaucrat work!” is the slogan of a local campaign [ru] run by the regional Internet news agency, Ura.ru. Their solution to the road problem is as simple as it is elegant: They simply spray-paint the portraits of local dignitaries around potholes, with quotes of their promises to fix the problem, and guess what -- problem solved!

What has taken local politicians years not to do is now done overnight. The embarrassment of having their portraits so concretely fixed to the potholes of their power has seemingly made authorities run about like mad to pave over their portraits of impotence, filling the holes in streets and roads.

How might this play out for car-free road users? Portraits of police commissioners at dangerous street crossings? Etchings of electeds at decrepit bus stops? Possibilities abound.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The City Fix files an update on road rationing in China; A/N Blog profiles a new one-mile pedestrian bridge that will span the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky; and WashCycle and BikePortland react to the latest brouhaha over the ethics of cycling.

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