In the Soviet Union, did most people own a bicycle? Were streets crowded with bikes? Or was there a shortage of bikes? What was the price of bikes and were they affordable?

The time period I'm most interested in is early 1960's. I'm concerned about big cities only, not rural areas.

3 Answers 3


I would not say "most" but many people owned them. In the big cities, especially children (I am not talking about rural areas). Streets were NOT crowded with bikes (cannot even compare with Denmark or China, and even with Germany). Bikes were affordable and available, but few adult people in the big cities used them for transportation. They were used more for recreation rather than transportation.

About the reasons one can only speculate. First is the climate: a bike is not a good transportation in winter, and winter is very long in most places of Soviet Union. There was almost no special bicycle roads, and the risk to be hit by a car was high. I would add that most Soviet cities had very good and very affordable public transportation systems.

When I was a child I lived there (in the 1960th). I had a bike, most of my friends had them too. But very rarely one could see an adult riding a bike in the streets of a city.

  • 11
    I'd like to add that, when I was a child, both I and nearly everyone of my boy (and some girl) schoolmates had bicycles. However, when I was first brought to spend summer vacations in a village, I was immensely astonished with the sight of adult people riding bicycles. 'Auntie, why do you ride bicycle? There are buses!' - 'Why? We've always been riding bicycles here. The buses come only four times a day!'
    – ach
    Sep 9, 2016 at 20:54

The answer by Alex is totally correct. The bicycles were used almost exclusively for recreation, mostly by children and teenagers. There were no bicycle roads so people used them mostly in parks. There were also no bicycle locks available so one could not leave a bicycle at a supermarket or school entrance.

It was also difficult to take a bicycle to the outside because they would not fit in standard elevator in older buildings. So people either used stairs or would transport it arranged vertically in a lift. Only later the folding model "Kama" became available.

Bicycles were very affordable and generally available in the USSR so most families had them. There was only a limited number of models available.

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    Good point about elevators. Let me add that most people lived in very cramped conditions, in small apartments, where there was little place for bicycles. Most of them were hanging on a wall.
    – Alex
    Sep 9, 2016 at 19:07
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    I have seem bicycles kept on balconies. I lived in Moscow for over a decade and most if not all of the old apartments had balconies.
    – SPavel
    Sep 12, 2016 at 17:34

Most kids of non-alcoholic parents in cities had bikes.

Adults mostly did not.

The problem was storage: apartments were cramped, thievery and vandalism were rampant, and convenient bike locks non-existent.

The theft problem was smaller in rural areas where everyone knew everyone else, so adults used them more often. The storage was less of a problem there too.

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