Prague mayor backs ‘motivation, not force’ to reduce car use

July 15, 2022

by Christopher Carey

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said cities need to discourage commuters from using their cars by offering sustainable transport that is both faster and cheaper than cars.

Talk to cities today On the sidelines of a two-day European conference in Prague, the mayor said the Czech capital was strengthening its transport infrastructure to meet its emissions reduction targets.

“Basically it’s about motivating people to give up their cars – we don’t want to force them at the moment, but we have to motivate them somehow, which means more public transport comfortable, cheaper and faster.”

The city is allocating more bus lanes, expanding park and ride areas on the outskirts of the city, and strengthening tram and metro lines.

“But the biggest challenge is explaining the need for change to people,” Hřib said.

“Transportation is an emotional issue, especially in the age of social media. For example, we see a kind of fury from motorists towards cyclists.

“I think the best way to combat this is to invest in public transport and infrastructure to make it attractive to people.

“We have to convince people that public transport can be faster.”

Climate plan

Last year, Prague approved its climate action plan, which aims to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels).

The plan is based on four main pillars: sustainable energy and buildings, circular economy, adaptation measures and sustainable mobility.

Earlier this year, the city opened an extension to its tram network and is building a fourth metro line.

Hřib also believes the war in Ukraine will accelerate Europe’s transition to green technologies as countries realize they need to be more self-sufficient.

“From the very beginning [of the climate plan] I was talking about the need for us to be self-sufficient in energy, that we shouldn’t depend on fossil fuels from countries that don’t have a good human rights record,” he said. .

“I think in 2021 there wasn’t enough understanding about it, but now I think a lot more people understand.”

Regional cooperation

The two-day meeting of the Committee of the Regions in Prague brought together local and regional leaders from across Europe to mark the start of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.​ ​

Among the main issues discussed were how to finance the decarbonisation of public transport through EU cohesion policy and instruments, the removal of administrative bottlenecks and the direct access of cities to EU funds. EU.

Under EU cohesion policy, member countries have spent billions of euros over the past decade to promote clean urban transport, funding hundreds of projects on the ground.

“Carbon-free mobility in our cities is absolutely essential if we are to achieve our goal of being a carbon-neutral continent by 2050,” said Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and chair of the meeting.

“Therefore, all political, legal and technical obstacles that prevent cohesion policy from funding green mobility in our cities and rural areas must be removed.

“Reinforcing public transport and active mobility, while reducing the use of private cars, is the only way to succeed in implementing a fair ecological transition for all.

Berta D. Wells