John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Bus operator Alexei Volkov claims to have precipitated more than 100 traffic accidents – mostly just to teach rude drivers a lesson.
If you want to drive like a douche on the roads of Zelenograd, a Moscow-area city known as the "Soviet Silicon Valley," you can probably get away with it most of the time. But there's also a slim chance you could wind up in the crosshairs of Alexei Volkov, a crazed, bumper-smashing vigilante bus driver who Russians allegedly know as the "Punisher."
Volkov claims to have precipitated more than 100 traffic accidents around Zelenograd, mostly to teach rude drivers a lesson. Here's the classic way it happens, of which you can find numerous examples on his impossibly engaging YouTube channel: Volkov performs some traffic maneuver that pisses off a nearby motorist. That motorist guns the engine to pull in front of Volkov and then slams on the brakes, because that's always the smart thing to do in front of a 14-ton municipal transport vehicle. Much to the dismay of said driver, Volkov acts like he doesn't see the stopped car and plows right into it, pushing it along the roadway like a bulldozer whose operator has fallen asleep.
Because Volkov had the forethought to install a dash cam, what a sneaky motorist is probably hoping will turn into a big insurance payout instead becomes comedy gold. Red Hot Russia has translated an interview by Netall.ru with the mad sheriff of Zelenograd; here are the more entertaining nuggets:
- Have you been found not guilty in all cases due to the video records?
- In all cases of scams I was found not guilty. In the past the traffic cops sometimes tried to argue, but I always succeeded to prove my point through the court. And now everything works like a clock – they judge objectively.
- Do you have problems with the management because of the large number of accidents?
- If there is no fault of mine, the management doesn’t care. The bus usually gets only minor damage. If the damage is more serious, they just wait for the insurance payments and then repair. For example, in the last accident the front bumper was seriously deformed after I hit a truck weighing 3 tons.
- And what is the attitude of your colleagues and traffic cops to your principles?
- It’s not about principles. Take my latest accident. What could I do? Swerve to the left in the oncoming traffic or suddenly brake and maybe injure the passengers? In both cases my license would be revoked and I’d have some serious problems. While the happy bastard would just leave the scene. I am not interested in such outcome. The cops just grin. As for the colleagues – I haven’t asked what they thought.
Read the whole thing here. Note that Volkov considers the notion of his actions putting passengers at risk to be "crazy," saying, "The passengers escaped uninjured, what can they complain about? That’s nonsense."
Here's another good one from Volkov's film library: