Auto-Mat initiative publishes 'car-free' map of Prague
Prague has emerged almost unscathed from the ravages of the 20th century – all except one, that is. Car ownership has rocketed since the fall of communism; huge amounts of the city’s budget go towards building elaborate new road systems and the streets are often thick with exhaust fumes. However, one civic initiative is trying to redefine how people see and use their city, and as well as promoting cycling and other alternatives to the combustion engine, they’ve also produced the first ‘car-free’ map of Prague. Rob Cameron tried it out.
The map is rather different from a regular road map of Prague, isn’t it?
“Yeah, it’s the first map for unmotorised users of the city.”
Unmotorised users of the city, so cyclists and pedestrians...
“Yeah, mostly for pedestrians, a little bit for cyclists, it’s not the main content of the map. First of all it’s a map of places, not of transportation, but a map of places where you can stand for a while, where you can enjoy the city, where you can sit, where you can walk in a nice environment.”
Right, and one thing it does not show is information for people who are driving, people in cars, so nothing about one-way streets or parking or whatever.
So where are we now exactly?
“We’re on the border of Žižkov and Vinohrady, in Slavíkova street.”
Right, and there it is on the map.
“We are here, and you can see that this street has a green line over it, it means that there are trees in this street.”
OK, a tree-lined street. Let’s take a walk for a bit, along Slavíkova. Svata, are you yourself from Prague?
“Yes, I’ve lived here my whole life.”
And do you have a sense that things are beginning to change in the way that people feel and think about their city?
“I am not very sure. There are some minor changes, and yes, there are many new places which are run by people that are very nice, so it’s better. But there’s been no change from the city authorities. Street planning is still very car-centric I think.”
“Yeah. There will be elections now, so maybe some change will come. I don’t know.”
The 'Prague Green Map' is available free in selected shops and restaurants around the capital. An online version should be available by the end of the year.