Riding bike in Prague looks to me like tempting fate. In fact, I never dared to try it. Some streets seem safe enough, in others you will inevitably have to struggle for your space.
During the recent years, the Prague town hall has started investing some money in bike lanes – although absolutely not comparable with the infamous tunnel Blanka. Watching these lanes I’m always a bit stumped. After some marvelous meters, the borders are suddenly dashed, the lane mixes with the cars’ turning lane, or you squeeze along the parked vehicles, always fearing you could hit a door.
It does not surprise me that not only bikers, but also artists took on that challenge. The following project, a video performance called Povinná výbava or Safety First (actually literally “mandatory equipment”), is a really clever hint at the town hall neglecting their duty so that citizens are forced to help themselves. It is a nice example of Czech humor that at times can be quite sarcastic.
You often understand a general problem better through a personal tragedy.
On January 12, 2006 – six days after he has been hit by a car while riding on his bike – 30-year-old Jan Bouchal, an activist for greener traffic with the NGO Auto*Mat, and a fighter against corruption, died from his injuries.
This was still before bike lanes made it on the streets of Prague. Jan Bouchal was one of the pioneers who risked his life for ideals that are normality in other European capitals. Auto*Mat later suggested to establish a memorial for their lost member.
You can see the place of the improvised memorial on this map.