If you are coming from the city center, retrace your route following the tram-tracks from Strossmayer Square for about 150 meters to the junction by the river, look up and you will see a lamp swaying in the wind. If you are coming from the outskirts of Prague, get off at Nábřeží kapitána Jaroše and walk only a few meters to the island where there is a lamp with four lights and a bicycle.
The silver wheel on the silver street lamp, revolving in the wind, is a memorial to Jan “Pup” Bouchal (1975-2006) and other bikers killed on the streets of Prague. It is a signal to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians in the capital. A public collection was organized for the monument which was created by the sculptor Krištof Kintera. This simple construction replaced the original white wheel which was put here in the tradition of “ghost bikes” imported from the USA. Although the tribute had been planned as early as 2006, work on the crossroads had to come first, which was finally completed in March 2012. Only then was it worth building a memorial to Bouchal.
TJan Bouchal was an activist who campaigned against the clash of interests in Prague’s city hall, promoted safe cycling conditions in Prague and the cultivation of public spaces, and also devoted himself to the medialization of environmental and city-planning problems. Two years before his death, he had warned against the danger of this very intersection. The accident was investigated, but not thoroughly – for example, it was not ascertained whether the driver was on his cell-phone at the time of the accident.
TThis gentle memorial reminds us of the vulnerability of cyclists compared with automobiles, and above all, of Jan “Pup” Bouchal’s testament of hope. He had initiated and worked on a number of community projects which continue to run to this day, more than ten years after his tragic death. The number of cyclists in Prague has risen in recent years but has the level of responsibility of drivers, politicians and judges also increased since then?
The next stop is about twenty minutes from Bike to Heaven. Go over the crossing to the sidewalk right next to the Vltava River. Walk upstream, until you reach Štefánikův Most (Štefánik bridge) also used by cars coming from Letenský tunnel. Cross Štefánik Bridge and at the other end, cross the busy road to the right bank of the Vltava River. Walk down Řásnovka street until you reach Haštalská Street and walk straight on to Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square), along Kozí and Dlouhá. Once you reach the Old Town Square, the house on your left is Kinsky Palace where Bertha von Suttner spent part of her childhood. Try the handle and, if the door is not locked, you should see a beautiful memorial plaque on your left.