Praguers weigh in on city transportation

A new plan under development will determine the priorities for the next decade

Citizens were asked to comment on what needs to be done to improve the transportation situation in Prague, and some 2,866 responses were filed up until the start of July. The city has just released an overview of concerns from those in Prague and the Central Bohemia region who commute to the capitol.

The responses were a step in a project called Polaď Prahu, or Tuning Prague. It is part of a process of developing a sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP) that will determine the transportation policies and projects for the next decade.

What tops people's concern is the completion of the Prague Ring Road, which would divert traffic from the core of the city. The first parts of the project were completed in the 1980s, but to date the highway around the city is only half-finished. People were also concerned with the planned Metro D line, which would link the city center to the southern neighborhoods. Specific local concerns about traffic jams were also popular.

Cycling was also a popular topic, but people had little agreement on how to handle the topic. Some people want to greatly expand the network of bike paths, while others take the opposite approach and want to get bikes out of the city. Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek, in charge of transportation, commented to media that there was an unfortunate amount of animosity between drivers and cyclists, and that the city had a long way to go in harmonizing different types of transportation on the road.

Experts from the pro-cycling NGO Auto*Mat said that the conflicts on the road come from a lack of adequate infrastructure. Auto*Mat favors solutions that would give car users from the suburbs more options to instead take advantage of public transportation. Improved suburban rail lines and the new Metro D line would help in this area.

Places where cyclists in particular want improved or new lanes include the Magistrála road that bisects the city, on busy bridges like the Barrandov Bridge and in highrise housing areas.

For public transportation, people were not satisfied with buses in some areas and want more trams on the weekends. Noise and pollution from vehicles was also a concern for some.

A few suggestions were not very practical or likely. One person wants a direct public transportation link to Honolulu, Hawaii. Whether this would be a new metro line straight through the earth or an overland route was not specified. Another person called for a new bridge that would be equipped with drinking water and public toilets. One person wants the city to cancel all public transportation and focus only on cars. Another person called for squares in the city to be filled with water attractions in the summer for those who can't make it to the pool.

More seriously, a group of experts hopes to develop a map showing the most problem areas for traffic and post it online at www.poladprahu.cz in September. 

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