Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Right winger stumps for cycling

The presumed next mayor of Budapest, István Tarlós of the center-right Fidesz party, gave some nice but predictable lip service to the cause of city cycling at a campaign event earlier this month.
As reported on caboodle.hu, the current mayor of Óbuda had this to say:
Traffic in the capital should be viewed as an integrated system, within which cyclists must be treated as equal partners, Tarlós said, adding that "the right proportion should be established between cars and bicycles."
Not to be cynical, but Mayor Demszky has also, over the course of his 20-year sway as city mayor, waxed lyrically about the virtues of cycling and the need to do more for our cause. The difficulty has always been in execution, particularly in cases where motorists had to be confronted. I doubt that any longtime followers of cycling politics were seduced by Tarlós's words. We'll have to see how they're embodied in action.

My skepticism is partly a superficial impression. Tarlós ran against Demszky four years ago, and in his campaign posters, he was always this hulking, unsmiling figure in a dark suit. He was the picture of either a mafia don or a rather unsympathetic director of a funeral parlour. In one poster, he was surrounded by several archetypal urbanites, including a fit, young woman on a bicycle. Even in this poster, Tarlós was unsmiling in his big, dark suit -- it was unimaginable that he could have any personal connection with anyone else in the photo. The visual dissonance was so stark, it created the impression that the picture was Photoshopped even though it (probably) wasn't.

For the current campaign, Tarlós has lost the suit and his bottle-blonde hair has been tousled -- probably by his hair dresser. However, the last bit of sloganeering I heard from him was characteristically right wing: something to do with "security and economic development" for Budapest. Let's hope the bicycling talk was more than just a compulsory campaign drill to appease some of his centrist detractors.


kristin faurest said...

Not to mention the more than slightly spooky connotation of the expression 'the right proportion.' Perhaps making all cyclists wear the yellow star is also in his plans?

Jelica said...

to paraphrase an old latin saying, "don't trust right-wingers even when they bring gifts" :)

S Molnar said...

If it's any consolation, the right-wingers in my country (they call themselves Republicans, but they're actually monarchists) refuse to recognize the existence of cyclists.