Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Auto*Mat Prague

Auto*Mat Prague

Creating Together the City We Want to Live in: Making urban cycling promotion an integral issue of urban development policies in cities with low cycling and civic engagement tradition
We do crowdsource ideas, we do connect and activate creative people, we cooperate with active people from other cities and countries and WE REALLY WANT THE CHANGES we work so hard for. Let’s join the movement!

Since our creation in 2003 Auto*Mat civic association kept promoting the urban cycling issue but connected it with activities supporting civic activation and rethinking of public spaces not only in terms of traffic but street life and inclusivity too. Our main public events Zažít město jinak (Experience a Different City) festival and Do práce na kole (Bike to work) campaign count thousands of direct participants and tens of media citations, both numbers rising. All based on grassroots activity.

Zažít město jinak in September became the largest street festival in Prague when being organized simultaneously at 23 places in Prague on one autumn day by tens of local groups or communities. Do práce na kole that communicates urban cycling from March till June spread within three years of its existence to 11 big cities in Czech republic and is attended by cyclists from over 500 companies and institutions.

Both events are accompanied by big Critical Mass Rides (the Budapest style of organization) and make thousands of non-cyclists see the positive aspects of urban cycling in broader context.

Unlike Auto*Mat, whose priorities and activities are generated through openness and grassroots processes, the political representatives in our city can hardly ever generate such popular support for their own urban policies. One’s own policies will often stay only one’s own and are likely to fail. We motivate local politicians to associate themselves with the public generated policies, to communicate with the public in an open way and to encourage public to share it’s know how for the sake of common living conditions improval.

The old-school self-centred politicians can hardly ever match the success of our community based crowd sourced service activities: the creation of the best cycling map of Prague with online pathfinder, the Prague Green Map promoting local economy and positive public spaces or the best community info point on cycling for and by (not only) Prague urban cyclists. However those who chose to join these crowds rather than to oppose them can do even much more.

The beginning of the new century in Prague was a period of peak influence of interest groups created within the nineties. Engagement in main political parties that dominated the political space of the capital was rather an act of association with the dominant economic interest groups or lobbyists than a way of creation and promotion of a certain political vision. The public was largely isolated from the decision making process except for the elections every four years. The communication among politicians, experts and public was highly non-transparent, if any at all.

Low budget topics (like urban cycling) were thus of low interest and often openly described like something annoying, useless or silly. So were any activities of civic initiatives that tried to influence the course of their own city’s development. The public sphere was treated as an opportunity for top down driven profit only.

There were people who lobbied for urban cycling back then. Unfortunately their popular support was limited to only their hard-core community of involved and as such they were accordingly treated as marginal issue.

When in 2003 our association Auto*Mat was founded, it presented a brand new coalition of creative artists, NGO activists and eventually experts from the field of urban design and transportation (many of them cyclists).

Throughout the years we gained respect as the main representative of urban cycling not only in Prague but in whole Czech republic. At the same time, which is crucial, we are as well considered as the main NGO voice in terms of urban development, urban culture and urban transportation in the country. The field we cover expanded far beyond the cycling alone. Thanks to this variety of urban related issues, we (and cycling) become positive choice for practically any urban dweller, no matter if cyclist or not.

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