Opinion: Prague „modernized“ the cycle path in Podolí

Publikováno: 05. června. 2023, 7 min. čtení
Publikováno: 05. června. 2023, 7 min. čtení

Separated cycling infrastructure in Prague is not stagnant, it is in fact decreasing. The current „modernization“ of the busiest Prague cycling route A2 in Podolí is proof of this. The city has invested tens of millions Czech crowns into a solution that does not bring significant improvements to either cycling or pedestrian traffic. The separated cycle path was removed, the mixed one was paved, and ultimately interrupted.

Cancellation of the cycle path

As part of its reconstruction, Prague has cancelled one of the few actual cycle paths in Prague. For 15 years, a separated path for pedestrians and cyclists had been in operation on a 250-metre-long section under Vyšehrad. As part of the reconstruction, the city is cancelling this section, putting cyclists and pedestrians back in a mixed regime. This is despite the fact that we know that combining people walking and cycling is a particularly unsuitable solution on such busy routes.

Combining two different (and speed-differentiated) modes of transport into one lane will always create conflicts. Whether between pedestrians and cars, cars and bicycles, or pedestrians and bicycles. And it is not pleasant for either group.

It is remarkable that Prague is pursuing this approach in 2023, especially on a section where there was enough space to separate pedestrians and cyclists. Is the intention to create conflicts between people walking and cycling? Is this an attempt to „drive“ cyclists into parallel cycle lanes that run alongside parked cars, and which end at the Vyšehrad tunnel?

Paving of the cycle path

The „modernization“ costing tens of millions of Czech crowns from funds allocated for the „development“ of pedestrian and cycling transport not only resulted in the cancellation of a separate cycle path, but also in the paving of a 250-meter long section of the A2 cycle route leading to the Vyšehrad tunnel. This has worsened conditions not only for cyclists but also for those with strollers, skateboards, scooters, rollerblades, and wheelchairs, and for those who simply decide to go somewhere with a suitcase on wheels.

Moreover, the city plans to degrade the paved path for pedestrians and cyclists into a mere sidewalk with permission for cycling, which does not even comply with the recently approved active mobility standards. The speed limit will be reduced to 20 km/h, and people on bikes will become mere guests on Prague’s busiest cycle route.

There is an alternative – to use the parallel cycle lanes on the roadway. However, they end before the tunnel, where one has to ride between the tram tracks and then continue in the flow of cars all the way to the center. Turning onto the embankment from the main street, especially during peak hours, is almost impossible – and above all dangerous.

Unnecessary interruption of the bike path

As if that wasn’t enough: if we continue on the „modernized“ path further out of the city center, there’s another novelty waiting for us. At Žluté lázně, the entrance to the parking lot now interrupts the path. Anyone who expected a raised continuous passage towards a developed cycling civilization, especially since everything was done anew, is out of luck. The priority of vehicle entrance to the premises is apparently higher, at least from a psychological perspective, as indicated by the construction design of the place – the yellow asphalt of the path is interrupted by black. Let’s hope that at least in terms of traffic regulations, the priority of pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained here in the end.

While a continuous sidewalk is absolutely commonplace in both Western and Eastern countries, in Prague we cannot apply this approach even to the most popular path along the Vltava riverbank.

A significant part of the budget for the development of cycling infrastructure has been drained by a project that contradicts cycling trends abroad. It involves the reconstruction of an existing cycle path that was in good condition, and some of its qualities are even being degraded. The most urgent sections, such as the passage through the Vyšehrad tunnel or the intersection with Podolská Street, with its rough cobblestones and crossing, remain unresolved.

Are there any positives?

This is not a new connection, an addition to the poor network of cycle paths, or the creation of new links. The addition of benches and the expansion and better aesthetics of the colored asphalt can be considered a positive. However, the quality of the surfaces remains „at zero“ as one part was improved, and the other was worsened.

We will undoubtedly hear about the reasons for this project. That fast cyclists have recently had cycle lanes added to their routes, that the path now has a uniform traffic regime over a longer section, that the majesty of the Vyšehrad location is supported by Prague’s mosaic, and that pedestrians are more protected by the new traffic regime in the narrower section.

However, if we believe that separate paths for cyclists away from pedestrian and car traffic should be the main goal of Prague’s superior cycle routes, we have no choice but to ask:

  • Was it worth investing in something that probably won’t significantly increase the number of cyclists or pedestrians in the capital? A relatively solid connection already existed here before.
  • Why is the city interfering with something that works and not focusing on routes where safe connections are completely absent?

For me, this is a wasted investment.

Jan Lang 5. 6. 2023, 17:07

I fully agree. The same type of useless reconstruction was carried on A2 U Českých loděnic st. (along Povltavská st. - P8-Libeň) - except for colour (it remians black). Cyclists on a major bike track A2 are "allowed" in otherwise purely pedestrian zone (without any rules for pedestrians' motion). And I am just mentioning the suddenly appearing lighting poles in the track. The creation of a completely missing part between Bulovka st. x Povltavská and Most Barikádníků did not move any forward on contrary. The main goal was clearly just spend lots of money for nothing/degradation of a biking track.

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