Friday, April 3, 2009

Let's Make Szentendre Safe for Cyclists!

Here's your chance to get in on the ground floor of a local cycling movement. So far, we've got two supporters. If you join us, our power base explodes by 50%. You bring in a friend, we're talking 100% growth!

We've already got the rudiments of a manifesto. This is a list of priority steps to sort out the main deficiencies of Szentendre's road system from the cyclist's point of view:

1. Create bike lanes on both sides of the main road into town from Budapest -- Route 11.

Reason: The current designated bike route south of Szentendre is the sidewalk along along the east side of Route 11 (Dozsa Gyorgy ut). The sidewalk is rife with the usual cycling obstructions: lightposts and signposts, a busstop shelter, pedestrians, and, of course, oncoming cyclists as this sidewalk is supposed to accommodate both directions of bike traffic. With cars crossing this sidewalk from several sidestreets, parking lots and driveways, you must be on constant alert for drivers fixated on the car traffic and oblivious to whatever's coming on the sidewalk. It's a typical, braindead solution that makes cycling unsafe and terribly slow.

2. At the southern entrance to town (where Dobogókői út intersects Route 11), create a safe cycling crossing with a priority traffic light.

Reason: At present, the designated bike path running along the west side of Route 11 from Budapest ends at an Aral petrol station (i.e. Dobogókői út). From there, you have to cross Route 11 to continue on the cycling path, which runs on a sidewalk on the EAST side of the street. The only legal way to do this is to go UNDER Route 11 through a tunnel that's reachable only by steps. Try doing this with a basket full of groceries (as shoppers at the Cora south of town might have) or with a loaded touring bike (this stretch of bike route is now part of the Euro Velo touristic network). It's impossible for many, and convenient for no one. The alternative is to cross Route 11 on the surface but this can be intimidating with a bunch of motor traffic bearing down on you. A nice solution would be a priority traffic light giving cyclists a few-seconds head start to get safely across the street.

3. Develop Szentendre's cycling infrastructure.

Reason: Under this heading are proposed several projects ranging from installing public bike racks to creating better signage to establishing good bike paths and lanes through town and to nearby destinations such as the Skanzen folkloric museum. The focus here is to improve the city not only for passing tourists and commuters, but also for residents of all ages who would like to be able to bike in Szentendre in the same free and easy way as they might have 20 years ago, before car traffic got so out of control.

Right now, we're looking to see who else wants to see a more bike-friendly Szentendre. We're looking not only for Szentendre residents, but also Budapest types who enjoy weekend rides up the Danube bend. The more support we have, the better our chances when we take up these proposals with City Hall.

If you'd like a copy of the short-but-sweet manifesto (just two pages, in Hungarian), or you'd just like to give ideas or voice your support, write to the brains of the movement, Balázs Devescovi, at You can also write me at

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