As officials in other European cities announce plans for car-free city centers, Prague’s leaders have decided to ban bikes from the urban core.
In a move lamented as “transportation populism” by local pro-cycling lobbyists, the Prague 1 municipality will ban cyclists from some of the most famous pedestrianised zones between 10 am and 5 pm, arguing that they are a hazard to tourists.
The limitations proposed by the Prague 1 municipality include Karlova, Celetná, Michalská, Železná, parts of Na Příkopě and Staroměstské náměstí. Banning bikes from these areas, which are often crowded with tourists, will make the area friendlier and safer to visitors.
“We are not against cyclists, but the problem is space,” says Oldřich Lomecký, the Prague 1 mayor. “In a pedestrian zone, the advantage should be for pedestrians, not cyclists. Every day there is a conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. This is the core of the problem.”
“It’s a very stupid decision that will cut off central Prague from the infrastructure that’s been provided for cyclists elsewhere in the city,” said Jan Cizinsky, mayor of the Prague 7. “If they want to create more space for pedestrians, it would be better to reduce the size of open-air pavement restaurants.”
However, Automat, an organization which advocates to protect and improve cycling conditions in Prague, says that the measures will be detrimental to inhabitants of the city, who are on their way to work or passing through the center by bike. It will also impact locals and tourists who use the bike share initiatives, Ofo and Rekola.