What a great Critical Mass! Some 35,000 people turned out, according to the news site Index.hu. The figure was given by organisers, and there's no independent verification that I know of, but my impression was that it was, indeed, a better turn out than last year's 30,000. The lawn at the closing bike lift behind Petöfi Csarnok was noticably more packed.
The weather must have been the reason. After a week of chilly days (highs just above 10º C), today was absolutely gorgeous with the sweet smell of spring blossoms in the air. It was a day when you couldn't not be outside. And with the whole of downtown Pest and the Taban in Buda closed down for Critical Mass, a lot of people probably thought if you can't beat them, join them.
I saw tons of little kids out this year (the photo on this post, by the way, was taken from hoszi at flickr.com). Babies in child's seats and kids from age 3 or 4 on their own bikes. They made me envious that I didn't have my 5-year-old Lance along. For the last two or three years, he's accompanied me on the Earth Day Critical Mass in the child's seat. By now, he's doing great on his own bike and I know he would have have completed the route with ease. But alas, he was invited to a best buddy's birthday party, and I'm afraid his sense of cycling righteousness isn't as strong as his love for cake and games.
My wife Kristin was a trooper, though. Despite being 8 months pregnant and not really able to ride a bike at this point, she headed out on foot from our flat on the Buda end of Margit Bridge and walked 45 minutes to City Park for the closing bike lift. Her commitment to the cause was an inspiration. And, of course, her attendance meant that our unborn daughter was also on hand. In fact, this will have been her second in utero Critical Mass. There's no indoctrination like pre-natal indoctrination, I say.