News,

What are the city districts planning: Prague 6

Publikováno: 14. července. 2023, 29 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 13. července. 2023
Publikováno: 14. července. 2023, 29 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 13. července. 2023

More than half a year has passed since the municpal elections, and we are asking the transport councilors of Prague 1 to Prague 22 about their plans for cycling infrastructure. We continue with the municipal district of Prague 6, which has over 100,000 inhabitants and includes Bubeneč, Břevnov, Dejvice, Liboc, Ruzyně, Střešovice, Veleslavín, and Vokovice. The questions were answered by Councilor Ondřej Matěj Hrubeš from ODS.

Are there any plans in your city district for the construction of new cycle paths, cycle lane markings, or the legalization of sidewalks?

I have proposed the establishment of an advisory body called the Traffic Safety Commission (BESIP). Vratislav Filler from Automat is also part of this commission, and I am very pleased about it. He is a person who understands cycling infrastructure the most. Besides being a „cycling activist,“ he has gained practical experience over the years. He knows what is realistic or not. In my opinion, this sets him apart significantly from other activists who may have good intentions but lack knowledge about the approval and time requirements of the measures they demand.

We have already had our first meeting with Mr. Filler and other members of the commission, where we discussed how to improve the connectivity of the main cycling routes in Prague 6, namely routes A6, A7, and A15, which lead from the city center through the sixth district towards the Central Bohemian Region. For example, on Evropská Street, passage along the cycle route is allowed on the sidewalk or in the cycle lane. However, there are places where solutions are lacking. It is necessary to follow through to ensure that these routes are as good as possible. It’s not just about chasing after new kilometers; the priority is to improve the existing ones first. We need to implement missing measures and enhance the passage.

Regarding specific plans, the preparation of the connection between Talichova and Stamicova Street near the Military Hospital is currently being finalized. The construction permit for that area will be issued this year. The signage there will allow legal cycling. Currently, Talichova Street is a dead-end, and to continue, you either have to take the stairs to Radimova Street or walk on the footpath.

Are you planning any improvements on Evropská Street?

There are areas where, for example, the sidewalk is partially legalized, while in other places it is not. Naturally, cyclists often don’t dismount in areas where there is no legalization. We will strive to complete the legalization where it is lacking. On Evropská Street, the sidewalk is not heavily used by pedestrians, so it presents an opportunity.

We are sitting at the Prague 6 City Hall on Československé armády Street. What are your plans for this street?

In Československé armády Street and the adjacent Pod Kaštany Street, there was a project in the previous electoral term to increase the number of parking spaces. The roadway would be narrowed to one lane, and one lane would be designated for parking. I do not like this project. I believe our ambitions should be greater. It’s not about adding parking spaces, but I also don’t think they should be drastically reduced. People need parking in certain areas.

Currently, a study is underway for the entire stretch from Vítězné náměstí to Ukrajinských hrdinů Street—how to revitalize this entire section of the street to create a much larger space for pedestrians, café and restaurant terraces, and ideally, trees and cycling infrastructure.

So, we’re talking about construction modifications?

Yes, we are discussing construction modifications. Regarding Československé armády Street from Vítězné náměstí to the intersection with V. P. Čkalov Street (a 300-meter-long section), the current arrangement is 2+2 lanes, and the narrowing to 1+1 would require construction work. We would like that street to look beautiful and not just be a hastily assembled temporary solution. That place deserves more care, including the Svobody Square, where a sidewalk is missing along the monument. Because construction modifications in Prague tend to take a long time, we are discussing a longer time horizon.

So, there are no plans for temporary modifications to enhance safety for cycling?

The street is quite long, and it would require significant financial costs to create terraces and other features from the reclaimed lane. Making temporary modifications for 2-3 years would be a relatively loss-making investment. Therefore, I hope we can improve the street quickly. It would be great if it could be done in this electoral term. At the same time, I believe the Magistrat city should consider our desire to humanize and beautify such a significant street.

The other section is Pod Kaštany Street, from the intersection with Pelleova Street towards Stromovka Park, where there are also 2+2 lanes. Currently, we are not planning any construction solutions there. There are embassies and low population density in that area. In this location, we plan to create a narrowing to 1+1 lanes for cars and a cycle lane through traffic signage. This could happen as early as this year. In the future, if we find support from the municipal authorities, we may consider construction modifications in this area as well.

Recently, the sidewalk on Československé armády Street was repaired, changing it from asphalt to mosaic paving. Does this have anything to do with the mentioned humanization of the street?

That is still a repair of the current state. This short section is not intended to undergo any construction changes.

Another discussed and long-awaited modification concerns Technická Street on the Dejvice campus. It was already mentioned in the previous electoral term that a conversion to a pedestrian zone would take place soon. For the past two years, it has been temporarily functioning as a pedestrian zone during the summer months.

I would like it if there was a pedestrian zone there year-round. The issue is that teachers want to park there, and schools conduct their deliveries from this street. Regular discussions are held with the universities about this. As long as deliveries are made from there, there will always be some car movement. It is challenging to create a purely pedestrian area due to these factors, in my opinion. However, IPR has taken over looking after the entire campus and is bringing its own inspiration to it.

On the other hand, pedestrian zones throughout the city typically include provisions for deliveries.

I would like it if it were purely pedestrian, or if deliveries were made in only one direction, on one side. I don’t think it’s necessary for deliveries to occur in both directions.

And is there a timeline for this? Originally, it was mentioned to start this year.

Since it involves cooperation with IPR and universities, it heavily depends on their collaboration. So, it is difficult to estimate.

Another construction modification was being prepared at Prašný Most under Prague Castle. In the previous electoral term, it was said that reconstruction would begin. What is the status there?

We are waiting for the „Plečnikova Alej“ project, which will be a very beautiful project. It is one of the final points connected to the construction of the Blanka Tunnel Complex. The project is managed by the investment department of the Prague City Council, and we regularly discuss it with them. The current state of the street is quite chaotic. We are planning a change in the parking regime before the avenue is created. We want to change the existing zone to an orange zone and increase parking fees.

In terms of cycling through there, it will be a deterioration. According to visualizations, asphalt will be replaced with rough pavement without smooth lanes. Do you know anything about it?

I cannot answer that right now; I would have to look into it.

A positive change for pedestrians and cyclists in Prague 6 is the implementation of school streets. Your municipal district is one of the pioneers of this successful solution. Do you plan to expand them?

We have school streets in Hanspaulka and Na Dlouhém lánu. It is a successful project that was initiated in the previous electoral term. Representatives from other districts, most recently from Kunratice, come to observe and inquire about how the system works, expressing their interest in implementing it in their areas.

Expanding school streets has one drawback—there are other schools located on roads that cannot be closed off. There are schools where it is easily feasible because they are situated on adjacent streets. However, there are streets where it is not possible. For example, the Norbertov Elementary School is located on Sibeliova Street, which the Integrated Rescue System (IZS) uses as an alternative route to the military hospital.

Currently, we do not have plans for further expansion in this regard. However, that does not mean we are not striving to improve traffic safety around schools. For instance, in collaboration with the „Pěšky městem“ initiative, we are working on improvements at the end of Pod Cihelnou Street, where ZŠ Dědina is located. It concerns the intersection with Žukovského Street, where cars can turn back, and deliveries and school staff are permitted to enter. However, this is being misused, as some parents drive their children right up to the school entrance. Therefore, we are considering the installation of barriers.

In addition to construction modifications, changes in signage, such as implementing „contraflow bicycle lane“ markings, also help cyclists. Are there any further plans in this regard?

We already have a considerable number of „contraflow bicycle lane“ markings on the sixth district’s streets, and they have been implemented for several years now. However, we do not plan to convert every one-way street into a two-way street for cyclists on a widespread basis. From a traffic safety perspective, we have encountered negative feedback from the police regarding this approach. However, we do implement contraflow markings where feasible. I recently read on your website that we have a new contraflow marking on Na Hubálce Street, so I believe there will be more additions…

Let me provide an example of Cukrovarnická Street in Střešovice. It is a straightforward street with sufficient width in a quiet residential neighborhood. Nonetheless, the municipal office argues that no significant cycling routes pass through it, so implementing a contraflow marking would not make sense. What is your stance on this?

It would be great if anyone with a request for a contraflow cycling lane reaches out to me.

I used to live in that particular section of the street. It is not entirely straight; it slightly slopes uphill. It is also the only section of the street, between the Pod Vyhlídkou and V Průhledu intersections, that is one-way for cars. Thus, I agree with the response provided by the municipal office that you shared with me. Cyclists rarely use that section, as there are no significant routes passing through it. When cyclists are traveling from Petřín and need to go through Ořechovka to Dejvice, they take V Průhledu Street and then turn onto Na Dračkách Street before entering Cukrovarnická Street. Otherwise, they would have to climb uphill again on Cukrovarnická Street.

A reader sent us this suggestion a while ago. They reside there and consider it a local connection.

I understand that it would be beneficial for someone who lives on that street and rides a bike. In such a case, it would be great if anyone with a request for a contraflow bicycle lane directly contacts me at ohrubes@praha6.cz. I will review the specific case of Cukrovarnická Street with the transport department and the police. If it is feasible in terms of width, I do not see any significant issues.

Another question concerns bicycle parking. In Prague 6, numerous spaces have been added on sidewalks for bike sharing and motorcycles. Do you plan to add racks for private bicycles or designate additional spaces on the road for bike sharing?

Definitely, yes. This applies not only to bike sharing but also to private bicycles. In the past year, or possibly the year before, we started marking parking spaces for bicycles and other single-track vehicles, including motorcycles and scooters. Initially, we focused on unused sidewalk areas, particularly in Bubeneč. We plan to create additional similar areas.

In April, we had a meeting with representatives of all bike, scooter, and motorcycle rental companies, discussing how to improve the infrastructure for them in the sixth district and how to establish a more organized system, so they are not randomly scattered around. We want them to only use designated parking spaces. We will continue with these efforts. Personally, I have one reservation about marking parking spaces on sidewalks. I believe all modes of transportation should be parked on the road, not on the sidewalk. If we encourage cyclists to park on the sidewalk, they are more likely to ride on the sidewalk and endanger pedestrians. I don’t like that.

Do you have more specific plans for expanding bicycle racks?

One of the locations where we are currently planning to expand racks or designate parking spaces is the Dědina housing estate, near the newly constructed tram track. It could serve as a model system for bike rentals. Residents of the housing estate could ride their bikes to the tram stop or back home. From this perspective, Dědina or Petřiny are ideal. Currently, neither Rekola nor Nextbike has virtual racks in these areas. We will push for their expansion. These services are subsidized by the city, so we want them to be available to residents. As for bike rentals, we also strive to address these services based on operational needs and feedback. Recently, we reached an agreement with Nextbike to establish a new location in front of Dejvice Train Station. Due to ongoing long-term construction work, all trains currently terminate at Dejvice. Nextbike suggested that it would be beneficial to have a bike station in front of the Dejvice station, so people can easily ride to Hradčanská, which is quite far. The bikes are already physically present there. A request for horizontal and vertical traffic signage has also been submitted. If anyone has additional suggestions, they can be implemented individually.

Will a „cargo-cycle depot“ similar to the one at Florenc be established in Prague 6?

I discussed this with Ondřej Mirovský (former councilor for transportation in Prague 7 representing the Greens; editor’s note) who now works here in Dejvice and is involved in this matter. He inspired me to consider establishing a cargo-cycle depot in Prague 6 because the one at Florenc is already quite busy. It has proven successful, and further development is planned for Prague 7.

Here, we are currently searching for a suitable plot of land. We have not found one within our own ownership. We will need to explore if the city or perhaps the Railway Administration Správa železnic has a suitable plot of land. What surprised me the most was the suggestion that the cycle depot should be located in an area that could serve residential neighborhoods, such as Petřiny, Červený Vrch, and similar places, rather than in Dejvice. Residential areas are where couriers drive from one entrance to another and struggle with parking. Such a location would be more suitable for cargo bike delivery.

So the cycle depot would most likely be established in some peripheral part of Prague 6?

We are searching for a plot of land… We have taken the first step by exploring our options, but we have not yet found a suitable location. It would be great if someone who knows about such a plot of land came forward. It could even be a private individual who offers a lease to delivery companies for at least five years.

I read that you are striving to expand bikesharing in Prague 6 beyond Bubeneč and Dejvice. Where else, apart from the Dědina housing estate, do you plan to expand?

In the first stage, it is important to focus on flat housing estates such as Dědina or Petřiny. There is great potential for using bikes to commute to public transport stations. Prague is not ideal for everyone to cycle through the entire city. For example, the bikesharing service at Hradčanská works very well. We certainly plan to mark additional locations in Střešovice, the hilly Břevnov area, Vokovice, and so on. However, it will be done in stages. We monitor where it has the greatest usage and where it makes the most sense to start.

The next question is about a specific route that was brought to our attention by one of our readers. Is there a plan for a safe passage from Ořechovka to the Hradčanská metro station and on to Letná Park?

I’m not quite sure what the problem is there. It is possible to cycle from Ořechovka to Hradčanská. The same goes for Dejvice. You can take Pod Hradbami Street to Prašný most and then continue to Hradčanská or Dejvice. Alternatively, you can take Střešovická Street, which has a marked bike lane, and then Milady Horákové Street.

The question seems to refer to a more protected solution…

We implement measures that are realistic and feasible. However, if there is a specific section that would benefit from being converted, such as a one-way street, I would appreciate it if the person could let me know.

This year marks my 19th year in the ODS party.

A segment of the public perceives your Prague ODS colleagues as resistant to the development of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Even when compared to the overall practices of your party. How do you interpret this? Or what do you think the problem is?

Many people ask me why I am in the ODS party… They say that, especially considering my support for public transportation, I don’t belong in the ODS. However, this year marks my 19th year in the ODS, and I see no reason to change anything. I have right-wing values and thinking. I am aware that the ODS is seen as „car-oriented,“ but I believe we, in Prague 6, are a bit different. I don’t mean just myself, but also the mayor, who is also from ODS. People here in Prague 6 probably see that we have a slightly different perspective.

I would mention Jihlava, for example, where the ODS has been in charge of the city council for a long time, and they have been successful in building a quality network of separated cycle paths. Last year, Jihlava was awarded the title of „Cycling City of the Year.“ Then we look at Prague 2, where the ODS has long been in charge of transportation, but there is not a single effort to create connections in side streets. Do you have any explanation for this?

It’s difficult, and it’s individual. I regularly receive significant criticism from cycling activists on Twitter; they don’t like me. Even when I announce that there will be a bike lane somewhere, it is not enough for them, and they shout that we are doing nothing. So perhaps this group of people has already put off others. However, I don’t see it that way. I understand that transportation must be addressed comprehensively throughout Prague. On the other hand, I also say that cars belong in Prague. And that cycling will not save us. We will be saved more by public and pedestrian transportation.

In your opinion, what will have the most positive impact on pedestrian and cycling transport in Prague 6 during this electoral term?

For pedestrians, any reconstruction of streets where the surface is replaced, and potholes are eliminated, is positive. Additionally, safer pedestrian crossings are being created, including improved lighting, widened sidewalks, or reduced crossing distances. These are tangible things that are regularly implemented throughout the district. We will be happy if the city supports us in these efforts. There are also smaller things, such as increasing pedestrian priority on certain traffic lights and reducing waiting times for a green signal. It depends on the level of support from the city.

Regarding cyclists, their numbers are few. I know no one wants to hear it, but there simply aren’t enough cyclists on the streets. Until more people start cycling, it will be difficult to bring about revolutionary change, whether in terms of development speed or in the relationship between cyclists and motorists. On the other hand, wherever there is reconstruction, we strive to improve conditions for cyclists. We work on creating new parking spaces and improving the flow on existing designated routes. We invest quite a lot of time in addressing the needs of cycling users, considering the number of people utilizing cycling transport. It is disappointing when people criticize every new bike lane.

Until more people start cycling, it will be difficult to bring a revolutionary change.

Which city abroad do you think we should look to for inspiration in terms of transportation?

I believe there is a lack of understanding of how to develop cycling transport in a city like ours. Many people imagine that we should draw inspiration from the Netherlands, Berlin, or Warsaw, where there is plenty of space. However, we simply do not have the space in Prague to accommodate dedicated cycle paths.

When I spoke about this some time ago with Mr. Filler, he said, „Prague follows the Swiss model.“ I think that is important to realize. Switzerland also lacks space, and cycling is addressed through dedicated cycle lanes that are not physically separated. Not that anyone is boycotting it, but that’s just how it fits there. I think that makes sense. Some say that cars and cyclists should be completely separated; otherwise, it’s dangerous. But until more people start cycling, drivers will not learn to perceive cyclists as part of traffic.

Since you mentioned all modes of transportation, which city inspires you in terms of transportation?

One aspect is inspiration, and the other is how realistic it is to implement in Prague. I like the street system in Vienna, where there are dedicated lanes for bikes. They also have a fairly dense tram network. However, public transportation frequencies there are low, such as the metro running every 5 minutes. I also like Munich, which is quite green, although some readers might say it’s too car-oriented. I was also impressed by Valencia, where I lived for a month and cycled the entire time. They have excellent separate cycling infrastructure. However, I know we cannot achieve that here because it would be at the expense of pedestrians, and I don’t like that.

And what about you personally? Do you move around the city by bike, including in Prague?

I rarely cycle through Prague.

Do you ever use bikesharing on Lítačka?

I have used it a few times, but honestly, it’s easier for me to walk those few meters from Hradčanská to the office.

Do you follow our magazine Městem na kole?

I regularly read your magazine, and I like it. Just like MHD86, which focuses on public transportation. I appreciate that your magazine comprehensively covers the creation of new cycle paths, new connections, and any changes that occur. It’s inspiring! It’s interesting to see how different cities or even districts approach these issues and what they do.

Thank you for the interview.

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