Over seventy-five Czech towns take part in European Week of Mobility

Hundreds of cities and towns from all over Europe, including the Czech Republic, have joined the sixth European Week of Mobility, which takes place from the 16th to the 22nd of September. The towns have invited citizens to take part in various activities, attempting to raise public awareness of sustainable means of transport to improve mobility and quality of life in cities.

When the event started in 2002, only six Czech towns participated. This year, more than 75 towns and cities, including the Czech capital, are taking part. Prague has always been praised for its efficient public transport network. However, it also comes first among European cities in terms of number of cars per person and regular traffic jams in the city are often unbearable. This week, people have a chance to learn about friendlier ways of transport. Eva Veverkova of the Czech Environment Ministry is the main coordinator of the European Week of Mobility.

"European Mobility Week is a public awareness campaign which should point out advantages of sustainable transport - it means the mode of transport more respectful for the environment and for people - and help towns and cities stop the horrible increase of automobile transport."

The central theme of the European Mobility Week this year is "Streets for People". Cities and towns have been encouraged to improve the situation in streets for cyclists and pedestrians and to promote safer routes to schools. Eva Veverkova outlines some of the measures that should be adopted:

"Cities should adopt measures which last. It means that cities should build barrier-free crosswalks, lighted crosswalks and cycling paths. This year these permanent measures are focused on road space relocation. That means that the road space should be narrowed for cars and enlarged for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport."

Petr Stepanek
One of the priorities of the European Week of Mobility is to promote cycling, for example by ensuring bike-racks for bicycles in the city, opening one-way roads for cyclists in both directions as well as introducing new bike-paths. One such path connecting the outskirts of Prague with the centre has just been opened. The Prague councillor for transport, Petr Stepanek, was the first one to test the new bike-path and I spoke to him right after he got off his bike:

"What's important is that this is the first bike-path that goes from the city limits to the centre. The bike-path goes all the way through to downtown. You can get to Manes near the National Theatre. So people who live in the southern segment of the city can commute to work to New Town, Old Town and Lesser Town by bike without any fear and have an infrastructure that is up-to-date and made for bicycles and I part also for roller-bladers."

The towns that participate in the European Mobility Week are also required to reserve one day for a so-called car-free day: certain areas of the towns are closed for cars and only pedestrians and cyclists are allowed there. Michal Krivohlavek of the civic initiative Auto-Mat has been organizing this event for several years now.

"The final item on the programme and the biggest one of European Week of Mobility is a mass bike ride in Prague called "cyklojizda" in Czech. It is kind of getting together of cyclists, which will start at 3 pm at Old Town Square on Saturday 22nd September. It's kind of colourful and very easy ride through the city centre on bicycles. The journey will go trough the "magistrala", which is a highway that leads through the city centre and people will have a chance to see this road quiet and free of cars, with dozens or thousands of cyclists around."