Prague bans Segways from historic city center's narrow streets

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech capital Prague will ban Segway vehicles in its historic center from early August, Mayor Adriana Krnacova said on Tuesday, after residents complained the two-wheeled electric vehicles were clogging streets and unsafe.

Dozens of agencies have sprung up in Prague in recent years that rent out Segways near or on city squares, and groups of helmet-wearing tourists riding through the narrow, cobbled streets the city’s medieval heart have become a common sight.

Prague’s ban follows suit of cities like Barcelona, which banned the two-wheeled vehicles from its waterfront promenade. Around 6.6 million tourists visited Prague last year.

“We received countless complaints and we decided to satisfy both residents and even some tourists,” Krnacova told reporters.

The ban applies not only to pavements but also bike lanes and streets, which makes it stricter than some Czechs see necessary.

Association Segway CR criticized the wide ban and is considering legal steps, Jaroslav Endrst, member of the executive committee of the association, told Reuters.

“We have been calling for some kind of regulation since 2011... but the council approved a complete ban,” he said.

The association says around 300 jobs are threatened by the decision. Segway users will be fined by up to 2,000 crowns ($81.59), Krnacova said. A 1-hour ride costs around 1,000 crowns.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky