Prague to be car-free today?

In more than 20 countries all around the world, including the Czech Republic, many people will have left their car at home today. So what does a car-free day look like in Prague? Radio Prague's Beatrice Cady reports:

SOS Praha, a coalition formed by more than 40 different civic associations in Prague, urged Czech citizens to support the worldwide car-free day. INPEG, the Czech branch of anti-IMF protesters, has also appealed to IMF delegates, asking them to--and I quote--"lift up their lazy, bureaucratic backsides and use Prague's wonderful trams and metro."

However, these very expressive words seem to have had no effect on today's traffic. On this cold and rainy day, everybody has gone to work by car, which doesn't mean metros, buses and trams were less crowded than usual.

This car-free day has quite obviously not been a success here in Prague. However, it is naive to believe that just asking people not to use their cars will change the face of a city overnight. If there are not enough initiatives from the city authorities to increase tram and metro traffic, few people will make sacrifices and take on an extra hour or two to go to work. And although Prague's public transportation system is one of the best in Europe, it is doubtful whether it could face a sudden influx of drivers who've left their cars at home. Besides, using bikes in big cities in not common here in the Czech Republic, mainly because of the traffic.

There will certainly be a need for more preparation and information to make people aware that a city without cars is not just a utopian dream and that in today's increasingly polluted world, it is becoming a drastic necessity. However, it might take another generation to persuade people to give up their independence, their mobility and their comfort for the sake of their environment.

Author: Beatrice Cady
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