We recently posted photos on Twitter of a dad with his children riding together on Dukelských hrdinů street in Prague’s Holešovice neighborhood. The image, which is quite common in Western cities, sparked unprecedented controversy in Czechia. Many praised the fact that parents with children are increasingly seen cycling on the streets of Prague. However, others criticized it as irresponsible parenting.
Our post received over 400,000 views and was shared by the Deputy Mayor for Transport and former Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates). The situation was humorously discussed on the YouTube channel of Adam Something, a Hungarian creator of English videos, who has over a million subscribers.
This photo was taken in Prague, depicting a father with his two kids riding in a separated bike path. The interesting thing about this isn’t the photo itself, but the reactions it produced. The photo made the rounds on Czech Twitter in two contexts:
The funny thing is, more people seemed to support the second interpretation. And they’re not completely wrong!
In my opinion, Prague’s „pro-cycling“ transit deputies, Adam Scheinherr (former) and Zdenek Hrib (current) are trying to have it both ways, and failing miserably at it. Keep in mind, the current Prague mayor is the Ultimate Boomer, as car-brained and conservative as it gets; so the transit deputies are doing work in spite of the higher city leadership really.
The Czech Republic itself is a weirdly car-brained country by European standards. This especially shows in Prague, as the city is completely overwhelmed by cars at this point. As such, biking in most of Prague is outright dangerous.
Attempts to change this by the aforementioned deputies have been largely ineffectual. The system of separate cycle lanes we have now is tiny, disjointed, chaotic, and borderline unusable for the average person. I refuse to list sharrows here, as they aren’t bike infrastructure.
When people ask for proper bike infrastructure separated from car traffic, the excuse by the deputies is the lack of political will. „Want proper bike lanes? Well, here’s a sharrow. That’s the best we can do.“
The end result is a situation where nobody is happy. Drivers are mad for having to dodge cyclists, and cyclists are mad for being in danger constantly.
I do not know to what extent the deputies are limited by politics. Maybe they’re doing their utmost, maybe they’re doing a fraction of what they could. The point I’m trying to get at is this:
You either build proper bike infrastructure, or you don’t. There is no half-assing or both-sidesing this issue. We need bold action in favor of cycling, like Paris now, and Amsterdam in the 70s. I’d argue that building sub-par bike infrastructure actually hurts the pro-cycling political cause. Your electorate will hate the half-solutions, and your opposition will get to point at it as proof that building bike infrastructure doesn’t work.
Adam Something is a Hungarian video commentator with over a million subscribers on YouTube. In his commentaries, he focuses on politics, urbanism, transportation, and urban planning.