The state spends money on cycle paths, but does not have an overview of their condition, length, or use. The construction of cycle paths is burdened by price differences
Press Release on audit No 20/11 – 10 May 2021
The SAO examined the construction and repair of cycling infrastructure, i.e., cycle paths and bicycle parking facilities. A total of CZK 3 billion of public funds was spent on cycle paths between the years 2013 and 2020. Over CZK 1.8 billion of this sum came from EU funds between the years 2014 and 2020. The audit revealed, inter alia, significant differences in unit prices for the construction of cycle paths.
The Czech state’s cycling policy is primarily the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport (MoT). The SAO found during previous audits in 2003 and 2011 that the MoT had not have clear objectives or priorities in this area. The current audit showed that the MoT did not remedy these deficiencies. The 2013 Cycling Strategy contains only general objectives, lacks clear priorities, and does not indicate how much money will be needed to develop cycling transport.
The state funds for the construction of cycle paths come from the budget of the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure (SFTI). Additional money, from EU funds, is distributed by the Ministry of Regional Development (MoRD), often as part of wider projects such as the revitalisation of bus stations. Thus, the existing cycle paths are the property of municipalities and regions. The SAO was therefore unable, due to its legal competence, to check the maintenance of the cycle paths or their preparation, as they are funded from the budget of the regions and municipalities, not the Czech state. However, the cooperation between different state institutions and regions and municipalities is not working the way it should. As a result, the Czech state does not have an overview of the overall length, condition or actual use of the cycle paths for which it has paid.
The audit also pointed to large differences in the unit prices of cycle paths. The auditors found, on a sample basis, that one kilometre of cycle paths cost CZK 1.5 million, but also CZK 31 million. It is true that, after a prior audit by the SAO, the SFTI has started to apply so-called price norms since 2015, but they did not lead to a decrease in the prices of cycle paths. The MoRD did not address the unit prices of cycle paths at all.
According to the cycling strategy, priority should be given to constructing less expensive cycle paths, for example as regards their surface or the construction of footbridges and other technical solutions. However, the audit showed that neither the SFTI nor the MMR had taken this principle into account when providing financial support to projects.