Prague cyclists seek brake on city centre ban

Photo: Tomáš Adamec

The cyclists’ association Auto*Mat has lodged a court complaint against Prague 1 district council’s move to introduce a daytime ban on bikes in large parts of the city centre. The organisation, which is promoting cycling in the city, has also called on the City Hall to review the matter, arguing that the ban is exaggerated and illegal.

Photo: Tomáš Adamec
The ban on cycling issued by Prague 1 district council, should come into effect on Thursday and will be in force every day from 10 am to 5 pm. Under the new rules, cyclists will have to get off their bikes and walk them through the restricted zones, or use an alternative route.

According to Prague 1 councillors, the ban is aimed mainly at tourists using electric scooters, which have replaced the popular Segways. At the same time, they claim they have received dozens of complaints from pedestrians, who say they feel threatened by cyclists.

Vratislav Filler of Auto*Mat admits that there are cyclists who ride recklessly, but points out that the new ban will affect all cyclists, regardless of their attitude.

According to Filler, there are a number of measures that could be introduced to improve conditions for both cyclists and pedestrians in the centre of Prague:

“There is a need for safe cycle paths through the city centre, at least for one. At the moment, there are no such paths in the city centre. There are also many one-way roads around the pedestrian zones, which can be made two-way for cyclists. So they could bypass the zones easily.

“There are some places where the pedestrian zones are unavoidable which are crucial for cyclists and there the speed could be limited to 10 kilometres an hour.”

Vratislav Filler,  photo: Jana Kudláčková
Despite their effort to improve the situation in the city centre, Mr Filler says that none of the proposals suggested by Auto*Mat have been properly dealt with by the Prague 1 councillors. The wider city of Prague has long had a reputation of not being very forthcoming towards cyclists. But despite the current ban on cycling in the city centre, Vratislav Filler says there has been some improvement in recent years:

“City Hall has quite a positive attitude towards cycling. There are strategies to improve conditions for cyclists. On the local level, however, councillors are not interested in cycling and their decisions neglect the effect on cyclists.”

A petition against the restriction of cycling in the city centre signed by around 1,300 people will be debated at the City Hall on Thursday.

Vratislav Filler from the NGO Auto*Mat says they will wait for the court ruling but he believes they have quite a good chance that this restriction will be overturned.