Cycling around Prague; the safety and the struggle

By Jacob Moseley

After recent debates between Prague Council and competing cycling companies about whether bikes should be legal on the city centre streets, I decided to get a better idea on why this is such a hot topic at the moment.

The city council recently overturned a controversial ban previously issued preventing bicycles from being used in certain parts of the heart of Prague due to the dangers for tourists and other pedestrians in the myriad of narrow streets.

Statements by AutoMat (leading cyclist rental company) had called the complete ban on bikes in the city “exaggerated and illegal.”

It was overturned recently after other multiple complaints and the fact that the court didn’t take into consideration contrasting proposals made by the cyclist companies.

I started by downloading the app, Rekola which showed the locations of all the bike hire centres, as well as the riding boundaries. The options were quite spread out and I managed to find one in less than 10 minutes from the city centre.

As I set off I found that this “hop on, hop off” bike rental scheme wasn’t too popular and noticed that most people were simply walking around the city. This congestion caused by mostly pedestrians made it very difficult to manoeuvre along the paths and I experienced multiple times when I thought a collision could have easily occurred.

With a massive amount of tourists flooding the city every day it also becomes hard for them, including me, to know the correct rules and regulations of cycling laws in the city, such as where the non-cycling zones start and end.

Another problem difficult for the council to tackle is the fact that Prague is such a historical city, and many of its pavements and roads are left untouched and unmaintained for years.

This obviously causes points where for people not used to cycling often, it is quite a struggle to stay balanced due to the divots, bumps and uneven ground which also becomes very slippery when rained on.

There were, however, many parks in the outer city which were perfect for cycling through and extremely enjoyable. The roads in these areas were also quite well maintained with rows of large trees and wide paths alongside the fact it’s much less congested, I’d suggest to visit parks such as Kampa Park.

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