Sunday, May 3, 2009

(Backhanded) praise for cycling improvement

On one of Buda's main bike routes, a connecting path between the Danube korzó and Mammut shopping center, street improvements are underway that actually reflect some sensitivity towards cyclists. From Mammut, the route runs along Varsányi Irén utca, across Fazekas utca, down Kacsa utca to Bem rakpart.

The work is mainly a cosmetic improvement involving the creation of red-brick intersections. In the course of the project, the road crew has significantly smoothed out the bumpy transitions between bike path, rain gutter and street. The project isn't quite finished, but when it's done, it should make for a smoother ride, as well as a much more attractive street.

In addition, at the entrance to the path across the körút from Mammut, they've added a strip of tarmac that basically follows the informal, dirt path that cyclists had made across a disused, awkwardly sited flowerbed. The bed was simply in the way, and the new strip of paving rectifies this problem.

Although I'm pleased about the improvements, I have to say the path remains fundamentally flawed. It's a perfect example of Budapest's generally backwards approach of putting bike paths on sidewalks. It's a single track on just one side of the street -- too narrow for two lanes of bike traffic and too wide not to interfere with pedestrians.

The obvious thing to do on a lightly trafficked side street like Varsányi Irén utca would be to designate it a maximum 30 km/hr zone and make the street shared space, where cyclists could mix with motorists with no need for separated lanes. It works quite well in other cities in Europe, including Paris.


anna said...

Although I don't know the place I tend to agree. In general I also prefer 30 km/h zones to bike lanes/paths. I've seen many successful constructions in Holland that slow the traffic down without putting up signs.

sobi78 said...

In the study of the Hungarian Cyclists' Club there is a proposed traffic calming for Varsányi Irén street with contraflow cycling. Despite the study the decision makers did not want to transform the parking lane to cycling space (contraflow lane). The result will be a one-way cycling lane on the sidewalk (uphill)and the downhill direction on the carriageway.
Fyi: javaslat.pdf

Greg Spencer said...

Thanks for the info sobi78. This seems like a workable solution to me. Already, a lot of the cyclists going downhill on Varsányi Irén do ride on the carriageway. There just needs to be some signage and maybe a painted cycling lane/sharrow so that all road users understand this is the proper way to use the road.