It's that time of year, again: The Sziget Festival opens tonight on Hajógyari island on the north side of town, bringing a flood of young revellers from across Europe for five nights of rock and roll. With daily tickets going for HUF 10,500 (EUR 42) a pop, I'll likely give it a miss. However, such is the magnitude of the event — approximately 80,000 people attend annually — that there's no escaping its impact.
Among other things, the festival's front door sits smack dab in the middle of the Buda-side bikeway. During the past year, the Buda quay has been closed to motor traffic and has become a de facto bicycle expressway. Now that the Sziget's on, the segment of the quay by the event entrance has been closed down and turned into Sziget "terület". That means cyclists riding the quay have to take a small detour (which actually traces the "official" Euro Velo 6 route). The blue line in the map shows the detour.
I'm not one to complain about the Sziget disruption. I figure the opportunities for fun and good music are worth the temporary inconveniences that it causes. Also, the Sziget organisers were really in on the ground floor of the Budapest bicycle renaissance: they started offering on-site, guarded bicycle parking for festival visitors 10 years ago -- at a time when the local Critical Mass was just a twinkle in Gábor Kürti's eye.
According to Sziget employee Ákos Dominus, the free-of-charge bike parking was used last year by 800-1,000 vistors a day. That's up from 200-300/day just five-six years ago, he said.