Campaign challenges city dwellers to cycle to work

Photo: CTK

Bikers all over the Czech Republic can now join a campaign called Bike to Work, which was started last year by a Prague-based advocacy group Auto*mat to encourage urban cycling. Teams made up of two to five people can join in the race and record the number of kilometers they bike on the way to and from work for the whole month of May. Those with the highest number of kilometers receive prizes, and all the participants get to join a growing community of urban bikers.

Photo: CTK
Radio Prague spoke to Vit Masare from Auto*mat, who coordinates the Bike to Work campaign and asked him how many people have sign up so far this year, ahead of this Sunday’s registration deadline.

“Around 3,700 people already registered for the campaign, and it seems like by Sunday there may be around 4,000. The increase [compared to last year] is partly caused by an increase in the number of towns that will participate in the campaign; towns like Ostrava, Jihlava, Olomouc or Plzeň, which are participating for the first time in this campaign. In cities like Brno or Liberec where the campaign had taken place last year, there is an incredibly increase in the number of participants this year. “

How many towns and cities in total are participating this year?

“This year, 11 municipalities are participating, from the biggest cities to towns like Uherské Hradiště.”

Besides raising awareness about biking, what were some of the other outcomes of the campaign last year?

Photo: CTK
“We had a special category last year called ‘New proposal for cycling infrastructure’. In Prague the first place went to a proposal to make official a cycling path connection between the Nusle valley and upper Vinohrady – the area around Náměstí Míru. Thanks to this incentive from the participants of the Bike to Work campaign, supported by experts, people who promote cycling infrastructure in Prague had some ammunition to go into negotiations with district representatives of Prague 2 and the City Hall. And as a result, one year late, this path was officially marked out, and people can now use it as a relatively easy connection. It is the first time that this path has become legal and the police cannot fine you for using this path. “

Given the success of the campaign last year, and the interest in it this year, has this changed the attitude of the city administration or employers toward urban cyclists?

“We have evidence of tens of companies that have joined this campaign, where because their employees were commuting to work in an organized way, it led to their employers introducing improvements like, for example, installation of bike racks, or in-company motivation programs were started. This is very positive and we support it.

Photo: Tomáš Adamec
“At the same time, on the level of municipal representatives… Well, there are some politicians that use a bike to commute around Prague, but there are very few of them. And there is still the vast majority that official says that in their opinion there is no place for bikes in Prague. So, it is a slow process, but the grassroots activity is increasing and the number of bikers is quite high in Prague and other cities. And it is just a matter of time that politicians notice this. Currently, even though it sounds like a cliché, we can say that cycling as transportation is treated as non-existent by most [city] representatives.”