Two workmates are oiling up their chains for a cross-continent bike trek, in a bid to shake the “lazy” Czech government into improving Prague’s cycling facilities.
Michal Dub (32) from Michle, and Jaromír Holy (27) from Horní Počernice, are set to pedal a whole 7000 kilometers across Europe, crossing through Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal – a challenge which they insist they will complete in 5 months.
The pair, who work together at Alef Nula a.s communication technology company in Prague 10, explained how their big adventure is not just for fun. In fact, it is a campaign to get the attention of politicians who they say are deliberately ignoring Prague’s growing cycling population, and are focusing instead on transport with a larger financial gain.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the Prague City Hall, the number of people who use bikes to commute to work or go shopping has doubled in the last two years. It was reported in the Czech press how some 120,000 transport cyclists ride daily to work, shops and public offices.
Despite the massive increase in cyclists, Prague is still lagging behind other countries with its amount of designated cycling lanes, so that people can get around safely and comfortably, says Michal, who is the founder of the project.
“I wouldn’t really say that our government cares all that much” he said. “But this development is undeniable, and you can literally see more and more people on bikes every year. Why is that? It is because it is fast, convenient and most of all it’s free. But it seems that if there is no huge amount of money to be made, nobody cares.”
Michal claimed that he had written to the Czech Ministry of Health, asking for support, but has received no reply.
Last Tuesday, 23 April, it was reported that 225 university students crammed themselves into a bus to protest against overcrowded public transport. The students set a new record for the Czech Republic, highlighting the need for alternative transport in the city.
Jan Pelich, a student from Hostivice, spoke of how cycling is needed to solve the problem. “I try to cycle as and when I can, not just because it’s free, but because the roads are so busy, and public transport gets really crowded in the mornings. I think it’s true that something has to be done about it. I really like the idea of cycle4change, and I wish these guys the best of luck.”
Jan will join the 300+ supporters attending the cycle4change starting ceremony, at Bio Oko on Wednesday 1 May, as part of the Františkovy Lásky city festival. The ambitious bikers said they are excited but apprehensive about the start of their journey.
Michal said: “We have had so much support from everyone and it’s absolutely amazing. It’s going to be a lot of work but also very enjoyable. It’s amazing how much freedom cycling brings. I just hope what we are doing has an effect.”
Martin Kontra, co-owner of Bajkazyl, a popular riverside bike bar which is openly supporting cycle4change, wished the very best to the two cyclists. “Prague is not so perfect for cyclists. It has crowded streets, and minimum infrastructure around the city centre. The number of cyclists are growing and while there is nowhere for them to go, drivers can’t be comfortable with it.
He added: “This is the mission of Bajkazyl, to show that the streets are here for everyone. We support the cycling community fully and we send our support to the guys for their big trip.”
Full details about the project, route and background information can be found here: www.cycle4change.cz or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cycle4change.cz?fref=ts