The proposed ban would hit half of the cyclists in Prague’s historic centre
The municipality of Prague 1 has recently proposed to exclude cycling traffic from parts of the Prague historic centre. We have analysed UrbanCyclers mobile app data to understand the impact such a ban would have on Prague cycling traffic. Which are our findings?
The proposal to restrict cycling in selected areas of Prague 1 has recently stirred intense debate. The exact extent of the ban is not yet know but the information released so far suggests that it could cover Staroměstské náměstí, Náměstí Republiky, the lower part of Václavské náměstí, and the streets of Na Příkopě, Na Můstku and 28. Října (more information about the proposal can be found here and here — in Czech only).
The debate around the potential impact of the proposed restriction on Prague’s cycling has so far lacked one critical ingredient — data. We would like to address this by leveraging the data collected by our UrbanCyclers mobile app.
UrbanCyclers is a smart mobile app which helps people and cities cycle more. The app makes urban cycling simpler by providing cyclists with tailored advice on where and how to best ride the bike in a city as well as it makes it more fun through gamification. Importantly, the app also enables cyclists to record their rides and to generate a large pool of data that can be used for subsequent analysis of urban cycling. From simple heatmaps to more sophisticated analyses, UrbanCyclers helps cities plan and evaluate pro-cycling measures — as well as helping the cycling community to defend their interests when politicians get silly ideas.
For this specific analysis, we have analysed thousands of GPS tracks of cycling rides crossing the Prague city centre recorded by the UrbanCyclers app from the beginning of 2017 until the second week of May. Leveraging our advanced algorithms, we have matched the recorded GPS tracks to the underlying street and pavement network and derived detailed information which streets the cyclists go.
The map below shows the results of our analysis.
The number shown by each marked street segment denotes the percentage of transiting rides that travel through the segment. We sum up transits in both directions and only show segments in which the percentage is at least 1%. The red color denotes the segments that are the subject of the potential ban.
The map shows that more than half of the transit follows the bank of the Vltava river, including the unpleasant and unsafe segment around Karlovy lázně where cyclists have to mix with trams, cars and tourist crowds. Almost 40% of cycling transit then goes through the streets of 28. října and Na Příkopě, which are both the subjected of the potential ban — all these cycling traffic would need to rerouted in the case the ban enters into effect. In addition to the cyclists transiting the Prague city center in north-south direction, the potential ban would also affect the cyclists going east-west, in particular at Old Town’s square, which is crossed by 11% of transit.
Our analysis of cycling journeys through Prague city centre could further be extended. For example, we could examine the intensity of transit traffic during different hours of the day, distinguish the direction of transit on each segment or analyse the cycling traffic speed. Besides transit traffic, we could also include trips that start and/or end in the Prague centre itself.
To conclude — our analysis of GPS cycling tracks suggests that approximately half of the cycling transit though the Prague historic centre follows pedestrianised areas and/or calm streets which are the subject of the potential restriction. This is enough of cycling traffic to warrant in-depth analysis of potential impacts before such a far-reaching restriction is implemented.