Thinking is slowly changing, younger generations are coming in who perhaps no longer see the meaning of life in a bloated car and tires whining on the asphalt. This is shown, for example, by the citizens of Prague 3.
People from the initiative repeatedly march on the Prague highway The last generation, their event is called 30 for Prague. The topic is obvious and understandable – to introduce 30 km/h as the maximum permitted speed in the capital, a general 30. The marches are duly announced, a permit is not required for them, as the right to assemble is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. It is enough that the announcement of the event meets the requirements, that the organizers meet the deadlines and that their march does not cross with another event.
Drivers who come across the march and have to wait understandably delay and delay the events. They are also delayed by frequent constipation, but they are used to it after all, moreover, they sit in the car themselves and thus become part of the problem, contributing to the constipation themselves. It’s different with protests on the highway, drivers take them as approval, bad intentions, war. Actors and organizers of marches are often accused of hating cars and drivers, and they are often labeled as neo-Marxists, leftists, pests. That too is nonsense. They obviously choose the extreme method in order to draw attention to the problem of cars in the city. At the same time, they should accept that blocking the highway will not lead to dialogue with drivers.
They are accused of recklessness and wrong judgment, it is said that it is nonsense that cars in their thirties produce less emissions. For people addicted to cars, there is a “what next” fear, what would happen if the Last Generation pushed through a blanket thirty: ban cars in the center? Toll? They say they won’t rest, they will want more and more so that cars are not banned completely! However, none of them want that. The latest generation does not enforce the ban on cars, they only advocate for their taming, but mainly they are interested in greater peace and a city for people.
The basic counter-arguments that are heard: the traffic will slow down and also that “it just doesn’t work”. However, a flat thirty is possible, as shown by Paris (2021) or Brussels (2021), where it was introduced. It doesn’t end there, last year the Welsh Parliament passed a law that reduces the maximum speed limit in cities there from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour from this September. Scotland is to introduce the same two years later. Neo-Marxists themselves? Or rather a modern country and a modern way of thinking that wants cities to serve people more than cars?
In 2021, I wrote about Peter Bednár, an architect and urban planner who studied and worked in the USA, the Netherlands and China and is dedicated to the planning of urban structures, landscape and public space. For Seznam Správy, he wrote a well-founded text Thirty in the cities has a sense. Bigger than 26 lanes, where we read: “Instead of driving slowly in traffic jams on big roads for tens of billions, maybe it’s better to drive smoothly at thirty on smaller streets for tens of millions.”
As an example, he cites Helsinki, which has about 650,000 inhabitants, i.e. about half of Prague, a good comparison. They introduced a flat 30 speed limit there, and Helsinki “perfectly shows the impact of exchanging a lower speed for less traffic jams, and therefore an overall more passable city. Instead of the expected traffic collapse, in Helsinki with a flat 30 speed limit on most roads, the average car speed is higher than in the current center of Prague. While in Prague, the typical a driver spends over fifty hours a year in traffic jams, in Helsinki it’s only an hour. Even according to the most skeptical measurements, Helsinki drivers spend almost half as much time in traffic jams as those in Prague”. I will add that the Finns are not neo-Marxists.
Otherwise set motogenerations
Personal experience. I live in the densely populated Prague 6, specifically in one of the smaller parts where the 30-hour rate was introduced. Of course, no one controls it, since it was announced with signs here, I have never experienced a speed measurement here. I ride an overwhelming majority of bicycles, about half of our drivers keep to thirty, which I consider a success. The reality is, however, that our streets are narrow, cars are parked in them, so in many places it is more like going at twenty.
The 30 zone around my place of residence ends at the road that separates the houses from the Ladronka park, which is visited by a large number of people, usually cars come here from all over Prague for the inline track and to walk the dogs. The road is no longer thirty, it is straight, and it is often driven much faster. Thirty would make sense here, it would undoubtedly be appropriate.
It is the same on the road that leads around Prague Castle. They painted nice cycle lanes on it, but the road is narrow, the cycle lane in one part runs right around a metal railing with sharp right angles, a car or a bus is driving a short distance from you, again the thirty would make sense here, it would be much safer, people would they weren’t afraid to ride a bike, drivers wouldn’t be nervous when they passed them.
If you proceed in this way, you will find that the 30 is apparently meaningless only on four or more lanes through the city, or where there is no built-up area and there are no pedestrians. But cyclists and scooter riders should be taken into account in these places, they are often narrow roads where there is not enough space for non-motorized traffic, and reducing the speed would significantly help here as well.
I realize that my generation and the following generation were and are motorcycle generations, cars represented freedom for us, replaced freedom. In order for a general 30 with few exceptions to be implemented in Prague, as well as in Paris, Brussels, Helsinki and elsewhere, the residents’ perception and view of the space around them would have to change. I suppose that it bothers many people when they can’t let their children play on the street, as we used to play on it forty years ago in Prague 6.
But thinking is slowly changing, younger generations are coming in with different priorities and, above all, with different options. This is shown, for example, by Prague 3, which also asks its citizens about some transport measures. She prepared a poll for the zone with thirty in the area near Vinohradská hospital. Indeed, a public opinion survey showed that 54 percent of the population is in favor of speed limits. The project is scheduled to be completed sometime this fall.
Of course, people who commute to Prague for work will be against the 30, they will feel that it is holding them back. For this, it is good to firstly read the text of urban planner Peter Bednár, it will speed up their journeys, and secondly, to realize that Prague still lacks enough parking spaces on the outskirts of the city.
I will return to the Last Generation and its event 30 for Prague. The marches on the highway are a provocation, they touch the nerves, they provoke anger and hatred. This is their obvious and quite significant weakness. At the same time, however, they sparked a debate, the 30s again becoming a topic. And that is very valuable. Unfortunately, the municipality lacks courageous politicians who would be able to think as modern as those in Paris and Helsinki and who would know that the label “neo-Marxist” is not only nonsense, but also a fear of change, even if it would lead to the better.
Video: Kociánová: Blocked Prague and the bike path on the highway? Cyclists just want safety (11/8/2018)
Cyclists are not a special species. It’s me and it’s you. Teachers, managers, salespeople or clerks, says Anna Kociánová from Auto*Mat. | Video: DVTV
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