In an effort to fight electric scooters, which began replacing Segways as the tourist vehicle of choice following last July’s ban, the Prague city council has now voted to prohibit the use of bicycles in pedestrian areas of the historic center between 10am and 6pm.
Auto*mat, an initiative devoted to promoting the use of bicycles as a widespread means of transport, fought the proposal, which passed on Tuesday afternoon, offering this criticism of the decision:
“The problem with the commercial operation of mopeds posing as bicycles can be addressed differently and is not compelled to criminalize people who ride a bike through Prague, saving the environment and the health of others,” said Hana Škodová, director of Auto*mat.
According to Richard Bureš (ODS) deputy mayor of transport for Prague 1, the aim is not to ban cyclists.
“However, we feel obliged to protect all citizens of our district, who have been complaining about the situation in pedestrian zones for a long time. The council has taken into account a solution that is common in many world capitals that the restriction is only valid at certain times,” said Bureš.
In order to ban Segways, the council needed a municipality to enforce the decree; the ban on pedestrian bikes needed no such approval.
“The regulation is…aimed at preventing Segway operators from replacing them with other vehicles that would endanger pedestrians in touristy…areas,” said Petr Dolínek (ČSSD).
The specific areas where the ban will apply will likely be the lower part of Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Náměstí Republiky, Malé náměstí, Karlova Street, Michalská, Železná and Celetná, parts of Na Příkopě, Jilská, Maiselova and Melantrichova, Na Můstku, and 28. Října.
People riding a bike in the center would be subject to a fine; Auto*mat says that the proposed optional detour routes are inadequate.