A growing number of visitors to Prague are using the Segways two-wheelers to get around the city’s historic centre. But their increased presence in pedestrian areas has long been annoying local inhabitants concerned about risks of accidents on the busy sidewalks. Local authorities in central Prague have been calling for legislation that would push Segways onto the roads. However, the Czech Transport Ministry is instead considering officially classifying Segways as pedestrians. I discussed the issue with the ministry’s spokesman Tomáš Neřold.
“We are working together with the central district of Prague, the police and other partners to find a solution to this problem. We have already advised the municipality on how they can use local regulations – for example, they can use road signs to prohibit Segways in specific streets. The matter of discussion now is whether we also need to change the law as such.”
The daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported the most likely option you are planning is to classify Segways as pedestrians which would officially allow them to ride on sidewalks. Prague 1 strongly objects to that and would instead like to see legislation that would ban Segways on sidewalk. Is that an option that you would consider?
“First of all, the debate has not concluded at all. Legal approaches to Segway differ widely in various European countries. We are not really in favour of a general ban of Segway on sidewalks but an alternative would be that users would have to leave the sidewalk and ride on the road if they present a risk to pedestrians.”
What would the criteria be in this case? Would this apply when the sidewalk is too busy or something like that?
“Of course, the question is how exactly to measure this. We need to talk about this and come up with an exact legal definition.”
Is this a problem that is felt elsewhere in the Czech Republic or does it relate only to the tourist areas in the capital?
“This is typical local problem in Prague, and especially in its central part. But we realize that for Prague, being a very touristy and crowded place, it is a serious problem, also because the numbers of Segway rentals and users in the street are rapidly rising. So we need to regulate this.”
So when do you think you could come up with a solution?
“There will be a meeting of the representatives of Prague, the police and other officials at the end of June which is when we would like to come up with a solution for Prague for this tourist season.”