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Trying to be last

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Last Tuesday the European Commission announced its list of “green cities” for the next two years. Prague was not among them, even though it entered the competition for cities with the best environmental protection and the best plan to increase the quality of life of their residents. Stockholm and Hamburg must have won only by accident with so much strong competition.

Because what do they have that we don’t? In the very heart of Hamburg lies Alster lake. To walk around it, you cover a distance of 8 km through a green park. In Prague we are working on a similar project because once the entire Blanka tunnel caves in and we flood the resulting crater with water, children on Letná will have a lake where they can go feed swans. And in the winter, it can become a skating rink.

Hamburg residents ride to work on bicycles. But why should we support something like this? You just get sweaty and might catch a chill. Plus you can’t read a paper if you ride a bike to work. Thanks to the long waiting periods at Prague tram stops, we have enough time to read the entire daily paper. The overcrowded public transport helps foster human interaction in a time of increasing anonymity. Smog helps filter out harmful UV rays, and hours spent stuck in traffic means we have plenty of to take care of various business and have nice conversations with our spouses.

It’s also good that Prague doesn’t have as many restaurants that are open after 10pm as Hamburg does. After all, eating late at night isn’t good for you. And while Hamburg residents spend their weekends at social events funded by the city, Praguers are working on improving their interpersonal relations. Because living in newly established suburban housing developments that lack any services means people are spending time together alone – certainly a benefit at a time of high divorce rates. It also means women don’t spend money from the family budget on shopping, men don’t sit around in pubs in the evenings, and children don’t waste time at playground building useless sandcastles.

Whoever entered Prague in the competition for cities with improved quality of life has either never visited Prague or didn’t see the map of the most polluted areas in the Czech Republic or has a very strongly developed sense of fairness. Because it’s easy for Hamburg to win – it rains there 300 days a year. The greenery grows all by itself!

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