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Cyclists take over – for a day

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Auto*Mat, a Prague-based initiative, brings together like-minded people who decided to do something to turn the city they live in into a safer, healthier and livelier one. The organisation focuses on the gradual calming down of the car traffic, the support of cycling as an equal means of transport and the development of other alternative sustainable transportation.

Every year in September Auto*Mat organises a happening called Zažít město jinak (experience the city differently) during which it transforms certain part of Prague into a zone for pedestrians, cyclists, roller-bladers, pram-pushers, scooter-riders and other ecological and man-fuelled transport. There are market stands with original goods ranging from clothes, to food, to wine, to coffee. This year, as part of the European Mobility Week, the happening will take place in Vinohrady, changing the streets full of cars into a space for meeting others and spending quality time.

The festival starts this Sunday at noon and ends at 8pm. The extensive programme includes a number of concerts at the main Citybikes stage at náměstí Míru, introducing the electronic My name is Ann, ska Sketa fotr and a number of Djs, as well as a fashion show by YaxiTaxi, featuring Citybikes bicycles.

At 2pm the bicycle ride through Prague will take off from the square. The bike rides are attended by thousands of people. The planned route is easy so that children can also take part. The Cyklojízdy organisers create a bubble to protect the participants from cars. The rides want to celebrate free movement through the city and offer a unique opportunity to experience Prague streets differently. They also want to generate broader discussion about cycling around towns since they always get a lot of attention from drivers and passers-by.

The Vinohrady programme will go on with book readings at the Sheakspeare and Sons cafe on the corners of Jugoslávská and Londýnská accompanied by live music and introducing a number of contemporary Czech writers. Parts of the streets will change into an art gallery, exhibiting large black and white illustrations and a bike as a musical instrument. Vodafone, as one of the sponsors, will host a bike renting spot and a mobile phone recycling unit.

A children’s corner will be run by the children’s magazines publisher Sedmička, presenting a number of activities. Creative café Vypálené koťátko will offer fair trade Mamacoffee drinks for the parents and pottery painting for the children. Another stand will introduce jumping shoes Poweriser that are likely to replace the good old skateboard or roller-blades and become the next best thing. The shoes enable you to jump two metres high, walk five-metre-long steps or run 40 kilometres per hour. If that is too innovative, the juggling workshop will offer something more old-fashioned in the shape of theatre studio and street games. Rock school workshop will allow children to play an instrument or sing into a microphone and the teachers present will teach them all to play a simple song live.

For the fashion conscious, there will be a station, where people can try on and swap clothes and jewellery. The Frisky space will introduce fashion accessories by young designers, as well as a jewellery workshop.

The event basically caters to anyone who likes to spend time in the streets without cars. The streets do not turn into original, friendly and inviting markets very often and this event offers a perfect farewell to the slowly departing summer.

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