Cycling campaigners and politicians criticise ban

Cyclists will soon be banned from the pedestrianised centre of Prague in an effort to improve pedestrian safety, while cars are continued to use the streets.

The cycling ban will apply to a number of pedestrianised zones in the centre of the Czech capital between 10am and 5pm, while more than 1,000 cars which currently have permits to enter the pedestrianised zones will be able to continue to drive through the historic centre of the city.

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“We are not against cyclists, but the problem is space,” Oldřich Lomecký, mayor of the Prague 1 area in the centre of the city, told The Guardian.

“In a pedestrian zone, the advantage should be for pedestrians, not cyclists. Every day there is conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. This is the core of the problem.”

However the ban has been criticised by local cycling campaigners, as well as politicians for areas of Prague away from the city centre where the ban will be applied with Jan Cizinsky, mayor of an area on the outskirts of Prague, branding the ban a “very stupid decision”.

Vratislav Filler, from the cycling campaign group Auto*Mat said that the ban did not make sense due to the low number of incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians, and that incidents involving cars and pedestrians in the pedestrianised area were more dangerous.

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“Data shows there were 21 pedestrians hit by cars over the past 10 years, and only three involved in accidents with bicycles,” Filler points out. “The council just doesn’t think supporting cycling or creating corridors for cyclists is necessary in the city centre. It means cyclists are going to be forced on to streets that are dangerous because they have heavy car traffic and busy tram lines.”

Prague has one of the highest rates of car ownership and the lowest rates of bicycle use among EU capital cities, with just 1 per cent of journeys being made by bike compared to more than 40 per cent in Copenhagen.