29 July 2011

Anticipation: Cycling in Prague

In four more days, I'm leaving for Prague.  As you might imagine, I've been reading what I can about cycling the city.  And the comments on everything--from facilities to guided tours to cycling itself--are very mixed.  I guess that's not surprising, given what a metropolis Prague is.

One interesting insight offered by the Lonely Planet guide is that while cycling is becoming more popular, and the city is building bike lanes and doing other things to make cycling more popular and safer, and viable for commuting, things are nowhere near as good as they are in Vienna and some of the German, Dutch and Scandinavian cities.  Part of the reason for that, the LP editors say, is that while the central city is flat, it is surrounded by hills, which makes commuting from the outskirts less enticing for most people.  Also, they say, the lanes don't yet form a unified system that the lanes in other European cities are.   

Of course, comments like those aren't going to stop me.  Whatever they have in Prague, it must be better than just about any American city--and many European cities--had twenty or thirty years ago.  One thing that sounds familiar is the warning LP and a few other sources give:  Czech drivers are anti-cyclist.  As if they aren't in other places!

What I have decided is that I'm going to rent a bike.  If I were going to be away for longer, or if I were going on a tour or a cycle-camping trip, I'd want to bring one of my own bikes.  But, as a general rule, I like to travel as light as possible and, in these days of "security" measures and airline policies that seem increasingly capricious, I want to make everything as simple as possible.  For example, whenever I go to see my parents in Florida, I take only a carry-on bag with me, even if I'm going for ten days, as I did during the most recent Christmas season.

I still haven't decided, though, whether to take a guided bicycle tour. I might take one for my first ride there, as I've never been in Prague before and know only a few basic phrases in Czech and German.  (I once knew some more German, but it has all but disappeared from disuse.  On the other hand, I have had numerous occasions to use my French and Spanish.)  However, the reviews I've read of read of various guided tours are even more mixed than what I've read about cycling generally in Prague.  

I'm sure, though, that cycling there will be interesting.  How could it not be if people park bikes in places like this?:


  1. Whatever you finally decide, I am sure it'll be memorable and remember that the beer is good there as well!

  2. MelissatheRagamuffinJuly 30, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    I'm so jealous! I hope you have a great time, and take lots of pictures for us to see!

  3. Enjoy your trip!

    The flat/hilly comparisons to Vienna at least don't make sense, as it too is flat only in (some parts) of the city center and is surrounded by hills. With your cycling experience, I think you will be just fine in Prague - both in terms of infrastructure and terrain.

  4. Look forward to reading about your trip. Safe travels.

  5. I hope this still finds you in time, I just came across your post today. I just wrote about our experience of renting a bike in Prague last summer, we just did a guided tour as we were only there for a couple of days on our journey from Germany to Romania.

    Our guided tour was wonderful though, our guide was an awesome Irish ex-pat and he was full of interesting info about the city. And it also was a good way to get our bearings on the first day there.

    In case you're interested, you can see my post about it here:


    And we rented with City Bike. Have a great trip no matter what you do, Prague is beautiful and I'm sure you'll love it!

    Oh, and having experienced life in Germany and Austria before heading to Prague, I agree that the cycling life there is nothing like what it is in Ger/Aus. but it doesn't mean that it can't be done. Enjoy!


  6. Velouria and Simply Bike: Thanks for the information. If we teach in order to learn, perhaps the reason we blog is to get more information and ideas on whatever we're blogging about!

    Sue: Thanks!

  7. I was just in Prague in May. The car and tram traffic there is not to be taken lightly. There may be bike paths or places you could ride in the country that would be much safer. I am an experienced urban cyclist and would be wary riding there! That said I look forward to your trip report.

    We took a (free) walking tour with Sandeman's New Europe that left from St. Wenceslas square, and the Stare Mesto/Nove Mesto is very walkable. I didn't see nearly the amount of bike tours as we did in Germany, for instance.