Fifth annual bike-to-work initiative wheels into Czechia on Monday

The AutoMat association urges people to consider environmentally friendly transport alternatives, including biking or walking.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 19.01.2023 11:44:00 (updated on 02.05.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

People in Czechia will be encouraged to cycle, jog, or walk to work in a week-long initiative that starts next Monday, Jan. 23. Organized by sustainable-transport firm AutoMat, the program calls on people to improve their physical health while simultaneously increasing their use of sustainable transport.

Be active, despite the cold

"Winter is not a reason to give up active [non-motorized] transport, all you need is suitable clothing and equipment,” says AutoMat public relations coordinator Anna Kociánová in ČTK.

The initiative, called “Go to work by bike,” is in its fifth year. Its aim is to “draw attention to the unbearable, yet sometimes untouchable, car traffic in cities,” organizers say.

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The idea is formed in the style of a challenge, whereby people sign up online and record their physically active commutes. By joining, competitors can vie for different prizes. Registration is free for everyone, and people can sign up here until Tuesday, Jan. 24.

According to World Bank data, the Czech Republic has the second-largest carbon footprint in the EU per capita.

Organizers say the consistency and frequency of activity will be the main aspects evaluated, because “the regularity of sustainable journeys is essential for human health and the environment.”

AutoMat encourages environmentally friendly modes of transport by, for example, providing “practical instructions on how to ride a bike in winter” and creating a new, bike-based cycle plough to help the clearance of snow while cycling.

The company also calls for better cycling infrastructure in Czechia’s cities. AutoMat is currently appealing to the government to help increase cyclists’ and pedestrians’ safety.

"Among the most common reasons why people do not cycle around the city is the fear of moving between motor vehicles. Experience from abroad shows that a high-quality and safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists is much more fundamental for changing traffic behavior than, for example, the weather or the climate." - Anna Kociánová 

The same program, held by AutoMat, is also held in May, which has a sign-up fee – the website hosting the event is currently offering a voucher for entry. 

Last year’s January event saw 1,854 people from across the country take part. Participants covered a total of 31,300 kilometers by bike and 9,700 kilometers on foot. According to AutoMat, 5.3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) were saved thanks to the initiative.

A 2021 study by the municipality of Prague found that over half (59 percent) of people "would definitely use a bicycle more often if obstacles to cycling in the capital were removed."

More cyclists, but emissions still high

Cycling is on the up in Czechia: in Prague, a study by the city’s government found that the number of regular cyclists increased by 73.4 percent between 2019 and 2021. There are about 330,000 people in the capital who cycle more than once a week at the moment. 

Prague is currently working to add more cycle lanes across the city, after it was found that just 2 percent of the capital's roads had cycle lanes.

Czechia currently has a problem with vehicle-produced emissions. This week, it was found that the average amount of CO2 emissions for new passenger cars increased by 1.5 percent year on year in 2022, as reported by ČT24

Every second adult in Prague, or almost half a million people, rides a bicycle at least once a month.

Against the backdrop of Czechia’s commitment to the Green Deal for Europe, which aims to reduce vehicle-made CO2 emissions, AutoMat will hope that this year’s event will see thousands ditch their cars and go carbon-free – at least for one week.

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