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Cycle activists voice dismay after being “ignored” by gov’t

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Campaigners are calling on Prague’s bike population to join them in a government protest against Prague’s “inferior” cycling facilities.

Michal Dub and Jaromír Holy are currently cycling across Europe in an attempt to highlight how Prague is “desperately lagging behind” it’s neighboring cities such as Berlin and Vienna; and they are calling on other cyclists to get on board to push for changes.

The two colleagues, from Alef Nula a.s communications company in Prague 10, have taken 5 months away from the office to complete their journey across Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal, as part of their project, cycle4change. They hope their challenging journey will help to raise the heads of the authorities who are “deliberately ignoring” Prague’s growing cycling population, and focusing instead on transport with a larger financial gain.

Michal Dub (32) from Michle, wrote to the Ministry of Health back in January 2013 but received no reply. “I wanted to ask for support or at least advice on where to go to get it”. He said. “But there was no response, not even a line to say they couldn’t help. It seems to me that the government couldn’t care less about the cycling community because it doesn’t make any money. Instead they focus on things that are more financially beneficial.

He added: “This is really tragic, because there are thousands of people in this city who are keen to be healthy and enjoy the benefits of cycling. I know there are lots of people out there who feel the same, that’s why I started this whole thing.”

When the Prague Post contacted the Ministry of Health last month, it was claimed that the email had fallen into the spam folder and had therefore gone unseen.

Viktorie Plívová, a spokesperson for the Ministry, added: “The Ministry of Health is definitely not responsible for the state of cycling facilities in Prague. However, we do support any effort made to improve the conditions both in Prague and in other cities.”

It was reported in the Czech media in April this year how the number of people who use bikes to commute to work or go shopping has doubled in the past two years. A survey commissioned by the Prague City Hall stated how figures reached 120,000, in 1.3 million Prague.

Michal says that due to overcrowded public transport, something has to be done to accommodate those opting to cycle. “It’s time for cyclists to unite”, he said. “There are evidently so many of us, all we want is to have some money put aside by the government to improve the facilities around, just like other cities are doing.”

Martin Kontra, co-owner of riverside bike bar Bajkazyl, shared his support for cycle4change. “Prague is not so perfect for cyclists,” he said. “It has crowded streets, and minimum infrastructure around the city center. The number of cyclists are growing and while there is nowhere for them to go, drivers can’t be comfortable with it. All the best to these guys.”

Over 500 people came to support the big cycle4change send off at Bio Oko on 1 May. So far they have made it as far as Hamburg. They will continue this week to the Netherlands, and into Belgium. Their final destination will be in Portugal in October.

Full details about the project, route and background information can be found or on Facebook:

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