Monday, August 17, 2009

City Hall, Cyclists at Loggerheads over Margit Bridge

So it seems the Mayor really DOES want to sell cyclists short on the Margit híd project. On Friday, Mayor Demszky's office issued a statement saying that, basically, there will be bike accommodation on just one side of the bridge (the Margit Island side) and not on both sides, as laid out in a plan hashed out last year between the City and cycling NGOs.

As reported by Metropol, the city claims that because Margit híd is part of the UNESCO protected Budapest panorama, it is impossible to obtain a necessary permit to widen the bridge on the south side of the bridge.

In the same communique, City Hall says the planned cyclist demonstration on Tuesday is not only unnecessary but dangerous.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian Cyclists Club continues to press the argument that restricting accommodation to a single, two-direction bikeway on the north side will be dangerous. And, of course, it will. The path simply won't be wide enough for cyclists traveling in opposite directions to pass each other safely. And for Pest-bound cyclists, the inconvenience of crossing traffic to get onto the north-side bikeway will mean that many will simply stay on the southern carriageway and ride unprotected in motor traffic.

To my mind, human safety trumps a puristic approach to historical preservation. Surely a sensible compromise can be reached in which cyclists get safe, European-standard accommodations (i.e., bike paths/lanes on both sides of the bridge) without unduly tarnishing the Budapest panorama.

Concerning the cycling demonstration, participants are asked to gather between 5:30 and 6 p.m. on the north side close to the point where it connects to the island. There will be a traditional, Critical Mass-style bike lifting at 6 p.m. -- so the key is to show up before then. Afterwards, the cyclists will make one or two circuits back and forth across the bridge. Finally, there will be a discussion about the matter at Jaszai Mari tér on the Pest end of the bridge.


Sgran said...

Damn! Of course, today's the day I took the bus to work.

Greg Spencer said...

Cut out early and get your bike. Or just come out on foot and shake your fist. We'll go out there about 5:30-5:45. This will be the first time Lance will be demonstrating on his own wheels!