How to ride like a local?
What kind of bike should I ride in Prague?
Although you may find some riders on fixies and road bikes, cobblestones, tram-rails and hills make mountain bikes the most practical. That’s why a good cross or hybrid bike is recommended. Due to cobblestones, the bicycle needs to be resistant. Choose a bicycle with at least 5 transmissions in the hub, or with universal 3 x 7+ derailleurs set. An e-bike can really help in hills. Of course, the choice really just depends on your personal riding style! For frequent parking on the street, an old, second-hand, or refurbished bicycle is highly recommended.
How to park in the city?
If you want to park your bicycle on the street, buy a good “U-Lock” and lock both frame and front wheel. If the bicycle is nice or expensive, combine your “U-Lock” with a cable to lock both wheels and the frame. Bike racks are unfortunately still quite rare in Prague, so light-posts, traffic signs and red and white traffic railings are commonly used. You should only be careful not to create an obstacle for pedestrians. It is good to know that there are free bicycle racks inside Hlavní nádraží (in the access tunnel to the South platforms), as well as classical (and not very cheap) storage (for luggage and bikes).
How to deal with quirky traffic rules?
For complete information, see Road Code Specifics page. In short,
- Riding on sidewalks is illegal, but most people do it occasionally. Dismount the bike if it is inconvenient for pedestrians.
- You are obliged to use bike lanes and dedicated cycle paths when existing,
- You don’t have right of way on bicycle crossings, and
- one-way streets are not generally bidirectional for cyclists. It must be allowed by specific signs.
There are some places in Prague where you are likely to be fined for not dismounting: Vyšehradský tunel (route A2), Výtoň (crossing of A2 and A23) and the pedestrian bridge over the Vltava in Troja (between Stromovka and the zoo). Also, dismount your bike at busy tourist locations where riding is not permitted (Karlův most, Pražský hrad, most paths in parks, etc.).
How to ride among pedestrians?
In the city center, it’s allowed to cycle on most pedestrian zones. They often make good shortcuts but avoid Staroměstské náměstí (The Old Town Square), which is almost always overcrowded unless it is in the early morning. The same rule applies to The Náplavka (a segment of riverbank between Mánes and Vyšehradský tunel). Don’t even try to ride there on afternoons if the temperature exceeds 15 degrees. Karlův most (Charles Bridge) does not allow cycling, use Mánesův most (Mánes Bridge) instead. To avoid cobblestone areas on the right side of the Vltava, go on main streets where there is more traffic (Národní, Revoluční, Jindřišská) and travel is usually faster.
What about bike in public transports?
You may take your bicycle on the metro anytime for free, but try to avoid overcrowded hours and cars. You can stay with your bike by the front and the rear doors of every wagon except the first door of the whole train. You can also use trains in Prague when traveling with Prague Integrated Transport tickets (zones “P”, “B” and “0”). You can find more details and rules for metro, trams, ferries and funiculars on the dedicated page.
How to dress?
In the city center it’s quite normal to see all kinds of cyclists: lycra-clad suburban riders, hipsters on fixies, people on mountain bikes, and urban ladies on city-bikes. But if you dress more formally and leave your helmet, you will look rather exotic after you get 5 km from the city center.
What about bike sharing?
If you want to ride a bicycle in the city center occasionally and not worry about maintenance, try Rekola. It’s a bike sharing community, using pink bicycles spread around the city. The shortest subscription is for one hour and costs a bit more than € 1. You can also choose one month subscription for aprox. € 10, or one year for 45 €. The only thing you need is a smartphone.
The new alternative is a global bikesharing OFO, which started in Prague in October 2017. Yellow OFO bicycles do not have to be locked to fixed object. Till the end of 2017, you may try bicycle for free and the area is limited to Prague 7. Then expansion of usage zone and competitive pricing is anticipated.