Auto*Mat’s Filler: Reported 25 percent jump in city cycling more a “return to normal” than marked increase

Photo: © City of Prague

There were reports on Tuesday that cycling in the city of Prague went up by some 25 percent in 2014. But as it turns out, the increase may not be as remarkable as initially thought. Vratislav Filler of the NGO Auto*Mat says that while interest in cycling in Prague has continued to improve, the jump registered was largely affected by a one-off dip in the figures.

Vratislav Filler, photo: personal archive of Vratislav Filler
I spoke with Vratislav Filler earlier.

“The numbers are based on automatic counting devices which are located at around 30 places in Prague. But the year 2013 was abnormal: there were floods in June and that lowered the intensity of cycling in the city. So to a degree, the numbers are distorted by that year. We can say that the 25 percent increase in 2014 was basically a return to normal after a season which was heavily affected by floods.”

Despite that, is it still fair to say that interest is higher or continuing to go up?

“In terms of more long-term numbers we still see a growing interest, although not a quarter or more. I have numbers from the last four or five years and over that period there was an increase of up to 65 percent. On the other hand, the greatest jump was in 2011 and 2012. The numbers have slowed since then.”

Illustrative photo: © City of Prague
You mentioned that the numbers were automatically compiled. How do they work?

“There are 26 sensors which are capable of recognising cyclists and differentiating from other vehicles or pedestrians. They filter out the other vehicles and register the bikes.”

I’m curious about the information which is recorded and whether it can be distorted. What happens when the same cyclist passes by the recording device several times on the same trip?

Photo: ČT24
“What is recorded is not the number of individual cyclists but the intensity of cycling in Prague. We cannot pinpoint the exact number of riders. There are numbers that from elsewhere, however. A poll by the city in 2012 recognised that there are around 100,000 people in Prague who cycle in the city regularly. That means once a week or more in the city.”