Thursday, December 1, 2011

We're going for ... a walk. God help us!!

Today at school, our boy got a gift from the II. District government: a fluorescent lime safety vest meant to wear whenever he's walking or bicycling in the city.
The II. District is looking out for me! But missing the point.
It came with a note, signed by the district mayor, explaining that "the safety of children is the responsibility of adults -- our responsibility." And continued that children get into accidents more easily and, regrettably, more frequently, and they make up the majority of those involved in accidents as cyclists or pedestrians.

And while noting that increased attention is needed on the part of motorists, the letter emphasized that it is necessary to develop proper travel behaviour among children in the interest of avoiding accidents.

The letter concludes by noting that because a parent "can't be next their child every second," this reflective vest can provide a useful, effective service by helping the little ones (a kicsik) to draw attention to themselves from motorists.

I feel bad whinging about this, because I believe this gesture came from a good place and, of course, I'm grateful that the local önkormányzat considers the safety of local children a priority.

At the same time, I feel myself recoiling from this unsolicited advice just as I do when older Hungarian women offer to help with our little daughter whenever we're out in public. If you're a parent, you're familiar with the issue. You're out with your baby on a perfectly pleasant summer day, but a square centimetre of her abdomen is exposed to the air -- the air!! -- and so an endless succession of kind-hearted women accost you to express pity for your child and ask if you don't think your baby's freezing.

It's the same thing with the protective vest. The sentiment is nice, I suppose, but it reflects a quaint, wrongheaded approach that doesn't do anything to help my child. If the mayor's really interested in helping, he needs to know that the main transport hazards that Lance faces on the streets of this district are from fast-moving cars. Of course both my wife and I work to instill safe walking and cycling behaviour in him, as we would anywhere. But this city, including this district, has a problem with traffic speeds. A city is no place for an expressway, but Budapest is full of urban expressways that don't allow for the slimmest margins of error for a rambunctious child on a sidewalk.

I love the small of a traffic jam in the morning!
 The main hazard Lance and I face everyday in District II is the traffic on Margit körút. This street is a typical four-lane, Budapest expressway, and it runs between our flat and the turnoff to Lance's school. Lining the street are dozens of apartment blocks, a park with playgrounds, restaurants and bakeries, a cinema, three grocery stores and the Mammut shopping mall -- places that attract droves of "little ones". The körút is also the route of the city's most heavily used tram line, which ferries hundreds of children and their parents to and from schools, kindergartens and daycare centres located just off the körút. This corridor teems with pedestrians of all ages every rush hour, and yet, the vast majority of space on the körút is devoted to car traffic and the cars rush by at ridiculous speeds.

In my view, the best way to enhance children's safety on the streets of II. District would be to calm the traffic. On the körút, the sidewalks could be widened, bike tracks added on both sides of the street and motor circulation restricted to one lane in each direction. But most importantly, the speeds could be slowed down to 30 kph. Studies have been shown that speed reduction is one of the most effective ways to avoid accidents and reduce the incidence of serious injuries and fatalities. 

Ironically, I occasionally don one of these ugly reflective vests while cycling at night in Budapest. And I see more and more cyclists in Budapest wearing these things -- during the night and day. I think this is profoundly wrong -- you shouldn't have to dress up like a emergency-services worker to ride a bike. And now, the district government is advising parents to put these things on their children whenever they set foot on a district sidewalk. Is this not a sign a problem?

Postscript: Despite my philosophical quibbles with the District II's child-safety scheme, Lance couldn't wait to put his new vest on this morning. Later,  I had cause to puzzle about this apparent enthusiasm. He wore it on our bike ride to school. But when I dropped him off at the front gate, he took off the vest and handed it to me. I didn't understand -- why didn't he just wear it into the school and take it off in the class room, along with his coat and mittens? He said he didn't want to -- he wanted me to take it home. Then I teased him: C'mon Lance, you're teachers will say you're a bright student. I can't resist stupid word plays. And it made Lance cross with me. At any rate, for some reason, he did not want his friends to see him in that vest. At seven years of age, he's more fashion conscious than he once was, and this vest apparently sets him apart in an unpleasing way. Maybe he thinks it makes him look like a momma's boy. I'm not sure, but he's definitely got some reservations about this thing.

Lance dons the safety vest. But will it be a
short flirtation with fluorescent fashion?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warsaw Uses Common Sense on Bus Lanes

The city of Warsaw, never known as cycling paradise, has taken a step that Budapest's authorities have stubbornly resisted: allowing bicyclists to use bus lanes.

In Budapest (and throughout Hungary) the default rule is that bicycles cannot ride in bus lanes on the grounds that the lanes are too narrow to safely accommodate both modes of transport (nevermind that taxis have carte blanche here).

On rare streets where there is an abundance of width, authorities, if they choose, can post bike signs and/or mark bike lanes that allow for an exception.

However, on most bus priority streets downtown (e.g. on Árpád fejdelem and an Erzsébet híd-Rákóczi út), buses hold sway in the curb lane and cyclists are required to ride in the second lane over, where they're being passed by buses on their right and other traffic on the left. Here's an illustrative video.

In Warsaw, authorities have recognised the absurdity of this situation. Whatever challenges might be posed by opening bus lanes to cyclists, it's more dangerous to force them between lanes of faster-moving traffic. In addition, the Warsaw authorities reasoned that because cyclists make up a relatively small share of traffic (as in Budapest, like it or not), the disruption to bus traffic will probably be tolerable. Warsaw will therefore open one bus lane to cyclists and other single-track vehicles on the trial basis, and then expand the idea depending on results.

In Budapest, so far, they've been very dogmatic about lane-width requirements -- even to the point of creating a dangerous situation for cyclists. The city should follow Warsaw's common-sense approach, and see if a more permissive policy works on an experimental basis.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Illuminating result


Image from fall 2011 Critical Mass borrowed from here.
The results are in from Budapest's latest "ninja" count -- and it shows a significant uptick in the use of bike lamps compared springtime.

As you may recall, the organisers of the city's Critical Mass carried out a pilot survey of bike-lamp use this past March. Volunteer counters across the country observed more than 2,000 cyclists and found that 57 percent were in perfect compliance with requirements (having both front and rear lamps); 77 percent had at least one light (front, rear or both); and 23 percent were riding ninja style, with no lamps at all.

Last week, a follow-up survey was carried out and the improvement was remarkable. The share of cyclists in perfect compliance was up by 12 points to 69 percent; the portion with at least some lighting was up nine points to 86 percent; and the number of “ninjas” was down by nine points to 14 percent. The spreadsheet with the full dataset is available on Google dox here.

In his post on the count, lead organiser Gábor "Kükü" Kürti enthused about the "very positive" results, although cautioning that a more proper comparison will have to wait until March, when numbers can be compared from spring to spring.

Some comments to Kükü's post expressed skepticism that the result could be completely attributable to behavioural change. I'd have to agree that such a major change in mindset and habits would be unlikely to occur in just six months' time.

I was thinking there could be a few other possible explanations:
  • In springtime, you have a lot more fair-weather cyclists who are riding bikes fresh out of storage and, naturally, with dead batteries in their lamps. Whereas in fall, the riders have been riding continuously all summer and their equipment, including lamps, is mainly in working order.
  • Over the last couple of seasons, there's been a huge, and rapid improvement in the bike lamps on offer. The latest LED lights, with multiple diodes, have huge candle power and the batteries never seem to run out. At the same time, Hungarian bike shops are offering more and more commuter-style bikes that are pre-equipped with front and rear lamps powered by dynamos. It could very well be that the better offer on the marketplace has had a positive impact on lamp use even during the last six months.
  • More optimistically, we all know there have been lots of new people taking up cycling during the last couple seasons. It could be that these relative latecomers to everyday cycling are generally more safety-conscious than the more kemény mag (hardcore) types who dominated the scene earlier. At any rate, I've noticed a lot more cyclists during the last season or two who are wearing reflective vests and jerseys, along with headlamps and other lights, than I used to.
Whatever the cause of the increase, it seems to me that even last spring's results were positive enough to disspell the prejudice that cyclists are a bunch of heedless sociopaths. Even the first survey showed that the overwhelming majority of night riders had at least one working lamp on their bike. That indicated to me that most people want to ride safe -- even if only for selfish reasons of personal security. The fact that some of these had a missing lamp or one with dead batteries is not a sign of willful disregard of the law or public safety. At worst, it's a sign of procrastination or forgetfulness. 

The latest survey gives hope that there's something afoot that's influencing more people to ride with working lamps. It'll be interesting to see if the good numbers hold up in the springtime.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Second Periodic Nationwide Ninja Count

The guys at criticalmass.hu are organising a nationwide bike-lamp count tonight from 7-7:20. They're seeking volunteers to stake out positions on local bike routes during this time window and count all passing cyclists and the extent to which each one complies with traffic code requirements on lighting.

This is the second time such a count has been done; the first was conducted last March. In that one, volunteers took counts at 85 sites, 48 in Budapest and the rest in 21 smaller towns and cities. In total, 2,461 cyclists were counted. The overall result was that 57 percent were in perfect compliance with the rules, having functional front and rear lamps; a further 20 percent had one good lamp (either front or rear); and 23 had no lamp at all ("bike ninjas" in the bike-world parlance).

As Critical Mass organiser Gábor Kürti noted in his post about these results, one of the main causes of accidents involving cyclists is that the cyclists simply aren't noticed. Few would argue that having lamps can help alleviate the problem -- at least at night time.

The 23 percent of cyclists riding around as ninjas is far too high, in Kürti's opinion, and he hopes these regular counts, once or twice per year, will help raise awareness of the problem and track its evolution.

If you'd like to take part in the count, it's quite simple. The directions, in Hungarian, are given here:


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Accident waiting to happen ... happens again

About a week after posting about an accident at "the most dangerously located bike/pedestrian crossing in the city," I came upon this frightening scene at the very same intersection. I don't know any details about what happened. I noticed the wreckage during my morning ride to work, and I reckon it happened the night before.    


From the visible evidence, it was apparently a single-car collision (an Opel logo and bits and pieces from a radiator are strewn about next to the mangled guard rail and stop sign). 


This is the bike path crossing of Újlaki rakpart (recently renamed "Slachta Margit rakpart," between Timár utca and Árpád híd). The problem with it is that it's right in the middle of zigzag of the street: essentially invisible to motorists coming from either direction until they get within about 20 metres. The only way to approach it safely is to go very slow, although the speed limit on Újlaki is 50 kph -- and average speeds are 60-70, I would guess.


So within the space of a week, I was witness to two accidents at the very same intersection (or, at least, one accident and the aftermath of a second). What are the chances of that? I'm interested to know if local authorities keep track of accident hotspots and whether or not this makes the hot 100.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bicycle Chic Taking Off in Budapest

Continuing a theme of posts on how bicycling has become an emblem of urban chic (part 1, part 2) particularly for merchandisers, here are some photos from Budapest's newly expanded international airport terminal (formerly Ferihegy 2, now Liszt Ferenc 2). Since opening this summer, the terminal's new duty free shops have been decked out in a bicycling theme. The bikes are everyday-use type bikes and they're meant as a symbol of "urban life." They're being used to sell everything from handbags and thermos bottles to scarves.



One of the bikes on display is a "retro" bike. For background, there's an ersatz picnic scene, a small-town touch that might be at odds with the urban chic thing, but then again, I'm no merchandiser.



And then a typical Dutch-style bike, with step-through frame and flowers and angels and stuff.
An appeal to the female shopper, I reckon, although it seems to also have charmed my co-worker Miklós.


There were a few bike-shaped product displays draped with colourful scarves and stacked with scented bath oils -- much like my own bike.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Case for Clearer Rules

The rather dangerous bike path crossing at Újlaki rakpart, circa 2007.
A road resurfacing has since improved it cosmetically, but it's no safer.  
I've always maintained that the main driver of unruly behaviour among some local cyclists is that no one really knows what the rules are. In Budapest, where every bike path or lane seems to be designed ad hoc according to the political compromise of the day, you can't ride according to a coherent set of rules. On one street, you're up on the sidewalk riding in the same direction as motor traffic, on the next you're riding on the carriageway against it, and on the next you're riding in the middle of a pedestrian promenade with no clue where you should be.

The national traffic code (KRESZ) outlines rules for cyclists, but these can be confusing. For instance, KRESZ says you're not supposed to ride your bike on sidewalks unless you're under 12 years of age (in which case it's ok as long as you don't go faster than 10 km/hr). Confusingly, though, the majority of "cycling infrastructure" in Budapest is on the sidewalk. Where a crappy painted-line bikeway is marked on the sidewalk, it's compulsory to ride on it unless there are so many pedestrians it's impossible to get around them.

Then there's the more-or-less common-sense rule to ride on the right side of the curb lane when on the carriageway. Cyclists tend stay to the right of traffic on their own volition, the better to avoid getting run over. However, according to KRESZ, where there's a priority bus lane -- and these are always along the curb -- you aren't allowed to ride there. KRESZ requires you to instead ride in the next lane over, ignoring your survival instincts by pedaling down a maximally exposed lane marker with buses barreling by on your right and "fast lane" motorists whizzing by on your left. This is a situation I won't put myself into. I flaunt the rule everytime. My only hesitation is the harassment I'll suffer if a BKV driver comes from behind. The police couldn't care less, but BKV drivers become sticklers for law and order when a defenseless cyclist gets in their way.

Another confusing situation arises where bike lanes/paths cross roads. The default rule is that cyclists should yield to motor traffic, unless they dismount and walk across the street. It can be counter-intuitive, especially when the bikeway is a shared pedestrian/cyclist path. On the path, cyclists and pedestrians share space as co-equal non-motorised travelers, but at road crossings, they're supposed to follow entirely different rules.

And there are exceptions to the default rule. Depending on the crossing, cyclists might actually get priority, and be able to stay on their bikes and ride across the intersection, having the right of way over motorists. Special signage marks these crossings, but it's not clear why one intersection prioritises cyclists and the other doesn't.

Then there's the crossing on the Buda Quay bike path just north of Szépvölgyi út. Here, cyclists (as well as pedestrians) actually come to stop signs at the crossing of Újlaki rakpart. I bike through this un-signalled crossing twice daily, week-in and week-out -- it's on my commute. And despite the fact that cyclists have NO priority here, they seem to command a de facto sort of right of way. It's probably because it's the most dangerously located bike/pedestrian crossing in the city -- on a 50 km/hr thoroughfare with blind curves hiding it from traffic coming from both directions. Motorists familiar with the road approach cautiously, and when they see a waiting cyclist, they tend to stop -- even though they aren't required to do so. Even though, according to KRESZ, shouldn't do so.

It's really a typical situation in Hungarian cycling (or maybe in Hungarian life in general). The rules say one thing, but people's behaviour follows another code altogether. On most days, this seems to work fine. But then tonight, as I was riding home in the dark, with streets glistening in a light rain and visibility not that great, I came up to the Újlaki rakpart crossing and, as usual, the first car to approach braked to let me pass. Unfortunately, the driver in the car just behind didn't know about the unwritten code for this crossing. Wham! The nice motorist who yielded to me was rewarded with a smashed rear bumper. I honestly felt bad for the driver. But I didn't stop, and pedaled on. What could I do?


Friday, October 14, 2011

The Early Bird Gets the Sweet Roll

Totally out of focus, but this was the scene this morning.
It's amazing how much bike traffic goes by Batthyány tér at rush hour.
So this morning, as part of my ongoing effort to instill the values of sustainable, community-friendly transport in my son, I suggested during breakfast that we stop by the cyclists' tent for a kakaós csiga (sweet roll). Lance normally sulks through breakfast and has to be prodded and kicked and threatened to get out the door on time. But at the mention of the words kakaós csiga, he sat up like a bolt, devoured his muesli, and got on his shoes and coat faster than he's done in recent memory.

I don't know how many new cyclists the bicikli reggeli (bike breakfast) brought out of the woodwork today. But the promise of sweet rolls had a magical effect on Lance. He was so enthused to get out the door that you could have mistaken him for a morning person.

Lance tucking into csiga number one.
When we got down to Batthyány tér, one of several sites for this morning's breakfast in Budapest, a cheerful volunteer from the Hungarian Cyclists Club flagged us down and asked us to stop for breakfast  (not that we were about to pass them by). She presented us with a very attractive pyramid of sweet rolls, each with a heavy dusting of white powdered sugar. We each took one, along with boxes of orange juice. Before Lance had taken two bites of his, he asked if he could also have mine -- to save for after school. Yes, he's a bit of a pig. But it was fine with me, seeing as I'm a diabetic.

The bike breakfast is a promotion for the fall Bike to Work contest (Bringázz a Munkaba). The contest started on September 22 and goes until October 26. Even though it's half over, you can still register and take part. In fact, if you do it before Monday, you can still ride the required eight times to be eligible for prize drawings.

The contest is a little more low key than usual, as it no longer has financial backing from the EU. The Cyclists Club is carrying on with a smaller budget and appealing to private sponsors to make it come off. Lance can testify that the bike breakfast was up to the usual high standards. So far, so good.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

EBikes Boost Hungarian Economy

It's just a personal impression, but it seems Hungary has a pretty significant bike-manufacturing industry. Along with the most familiar maker, Schwinn Csepel, there are loads of smaller brands produced here, including Caprine and Hauser (both made by a company called Avex Zrt.), Neuser, Mali, Gepida and Hercules. In 2007, a Dutch-owned company in the tiny town of Tószeg, Accell Hunland kft., became famous (in bike-blogging circles, anyway) as the maker of the sturdy, uniquely styled velocipedes of Paris's Vélib public bike system.

But does bike making really contribute much to the Hungarian economy? Maybe the following news item offers an answer: a couple weeks ago, Bosch, the electronics and services giant, opened a new plant in Miskolc that's been tasked with mass production of its new electronic bike motor.

This new plant -- which will produce some automotive gizmos along with the bike motors -- will add about 1,100 new jobs to Bosch's Miskolc operations. That's nothing to sniff at in the middle of a recession. Still, it was a surprise to learn which government official attended the plant's ribbon cutting: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Flanked by two big wigs from Bosch is the biggest cheese the Hungarian government has to offer.
According to Bosch communications officer Martina Horton, the bike motors won’t be the plants’ main product, but they will have strategic importance for the company. “This product presents very well the innovative technology of Bosch and environmental protection, so that producing eBike motors has a symbolic message as well,” Horton explained to me by email.

The motor was developed and produced in a small run in Mondeville, France, Bosch’s lead plant for eBike technology, Horton explained. Mass production was assigned to Hungary: an existing Bosch facility in the town of Hatvan will produce the motors’ electronics while the new plant in Miskolc will handle final assembly of the motor and drive unit.

These things are going to be a hit in China.
Production volume will depend on demand, according to Horton. However, the company has orders for 25 brands of eBikes, which is “a promising start,” she added.

Maybe it's fanciful thinking, but it seems to me that the government could do well by pulling out all the stops to promote Hungary as a cycling country: as a destination for cycling tourism, as a country of bikable cities, as a centre for cycling sport. If it does this, more economic plums like the one that dropped on Miskolc are sure to follow.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Critical Angst

For MOST participants, I think, last night's Critical Mass was an unqualified kick in the pants. According to the Hungarian news agency, MTI, about 30,000 people turned out, and the closing bike lift at Heroes' Square was one for the ages: Perched on the steps of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Budapest Festival Orchestra rewarded finishers with a short but sweet concert starting at 8 p.m. The selections included Tchaikovsky, Dvorák and Brahms.

Co-organiser Károly Sinka told MTI that it had been the best attended Car-Free Day Critical Mass ever. The free-style mode of organisation -- with no cordoned off parade route -- would be "the future" of the event, Sinka added.

My own experience of the ride was less of a success -- partly because there were just so many people this year. We got caught in a jam on the kiskörút and ended up missing the bike lift as well as the BFO's serenade. As I pulled up to the square, Maestro Iván Fischer was taking his bows before an ecstatic crowd, and wishing them "many car-free days." But having missed the performance, the moment was lost on me.

Things started out promisingly enough at the Feneketlen tó, as I finally got hold of some CM 2011 stickers to keep the series going on our refrigerator. Some other activists were passing out stickers for free-range eggs or something, and I got this snap of Lance in front of their giant pink chicken.

It was something to do with "bio" eggs or humanely produced ones or something along those lines.
We stopped in at the Transit cafe to check out a photo exhibition ("Me and my Bike"), and then we met some cycling acquaintances and settled in for a couple refreshments. Then time sort-of got away from us.

It was past 7 p.m. when we finally clamboured back onto our bikes and I knew we were cutting it close with the bike lift scheduled at 8. Sure enough, we got caught in one of the worst Critical Mass jams of all time. Honestly, I don't think it'd been that bad since the giant Critical Mass in the spring of 2008. You'd be in front of a traffic signal and sit there through four cycles of the light before finally getting through the intersection. (The irony of me complaining about a traffic jam that we deliberately set out to create is not lost on me. But damn -- I was getting nostalgic for the CMs of recent years, when there were enough of us to make an impression but not no so many that you couldn't move.)

Damn this traffic jam!
After creeping down the kiskörút for a half hour, Kristin suggested that maybe such a long exposure to traffic fumes (from cars, not us, obviously) wasn't the healthiest thing for our kids. And me, being the stubborn arse that I am, insisted on riding the thing to its conclusion. CM is evidently more important to me than protecting my kids from black lung. What kind of monster am I?

Sequoia was a good sport for awhile, but after we got past Szabadság Bridge,
she started to squeal.
At least Kristin, who was carrying Sequoia, did the right thing and bagged on it before the turn at Andrássy. Sequoia was getting crabby by that point anyway, so it was time to get her home. Lance was also getting crabby, but as he had the misfortune to be on my bike, he was stuck.

Restless Lance tries to frustrate my picture taking.
Poor guy. All of his suffering (and my stupid persistence) was for naught. By the time Lance and I got across Dózsa György and over to the museum's steps, the only evidence of the night's merriment were these empty seats and sheet music holders. We saw a couple musicians idling by with instrument cases over their shoulders, but no sign of Iván Fischer.

I bet that was an awesome concert.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Critical Mass Thursday night

So Thursday night, Critical Mass will be held in the usual "Car-Free Day" style. The starting time is 6:30 p.m. as usual, but the starting point is a little different -- at the Budai Parkszinpad near Móricz Zsigmond körtér by the Feneketlen tó (Bottomless Lake).

It ends at Heroes' Square, with the bike lift scheduled at 8 p.m. on the steps of the Fine Arts Museum.

The rules for the fall Critical Mass are always the same. There won't be a parade cordon. You can choose your own route, although most riders will go down Bartók Béla út, across Szabadság híd, down the Kiskörút, right on Andrássy, and then straight down to Heroes' Square.

Evening commuters who are NOT going by bike are advised to take the tram or Metro if they happen to be in these parts of the city. Buses and car traffic will be affected.

As I wrote earlier, we'll be treated to a concert at the square by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. And later, at the Kertem in City Park (my favourite Bp beer garden), the Dutch Embassy in Hungary is hosting an apres Critical Mass party with music by the local ska band, the Pannonia All-Stars.

See more details (in Hungarian) at criticalmass.hu.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Long-awaited break through

I was away on holiday and I missed it -- the long-awaited, permanent (knock on wood) opening of the Buda Quay bike tunnel under Margit Bridge. This morning on my regular commute, I started taking the customary detour around the tunnel -- and then I noticed that the chain-link fence across the opening of the tunnel had been removed. And cyclists were actually going into it. I guess things do happen to those who wait.

Of course, the bike path on the bridge deck is still a work in slow, agonising progress ...


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Festival Orchestra to Play at Critical Mass

Image stolen from cyclechic.blog.hu.
This year's Critical Mass won't be quite as subdued as I feared. The closing bike lift at Heroes' Square will feature probably the most sublime musical accompaniment Hungary can offer: the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

According to posts on the Hungarian Cyclists' Club site as well as on the Facebook page of the orchestra:
"The Budapest Festival Orchestra, as a sign of respect for the Critical Mass on Sept. 22, at the end of the event, will welcome cyclists with music in Heroes Square."
BFO Musical Director Iván Fischer includes this personal message to CM participants:
"I really like and respect Critical Mass. They give me confidence in our future."
Needless to say, that's some endorsement. And from one of the most accomplished and respected figures of Hungarian society and international arts.

A colleague who saw this news was skeptical of whether Critical Mass and classical would go together. And I can't dispute that it will be an unusual pairing. The background music at past rides has been firmly grounded in popular genres; one particular memory is of a sun-dappled bike lift a couple years ago behind the Petofi Csarnok, and having Bob Marley's "Iron Lion Zion" blasting from a boom box.

I love Bob Marley and I loved that moment, but in terms of evangelistic value, we can do better. The cycling movement already does quite well with students and old punk rockers like myself. It needs to diversify and send a message that cycling is for everyone, no matter their age, hair style or musical tastes. On this score, the booking of the BFO is more than a coup -- it rocks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Major Upgrade for Budapest-Vienna Trail

Here's a stretch of Eurovelo 6 just south of Szentendre. Hopefully this will benefit from the new project.
 According to an announcement this week, the government plans to spend an unprecedented HUF 12 billion (EUR 43 million) to construct and refurbish the Danube-bank cycling path connecting Budapest to the Austrian border.

As the cycling blog Kerekagy reported Monday, the project would involve construction of 200 km of brand-new bike path. On the remainder of the 282 kilometre section, there will be refurbishments of existing paths or signage would posted along side roads. In addition, according to the blog, the project would include work on 38 bridges, two large ones across the Danube and 36 smaller ones.

The route in question is but a small section of one of the biggest international bike routes in Europe. Euro-Velo 6 runs more than 5,000 km all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, crossing France, Switzerland and Germany, and following the Danube through Central and Eastern Europe to the river's mouth in Romania.

Here's some of the less impressive signage on the route (again between Szentendre and Budapest).
This is a little unfair, though: the signage is generally good, it's the path that needs work.
The section from Austria to Budapest is a favourite route of Western Europeans looking for new cycling adventures in Eastern Europe, but the quality of the riding surfaces so far has left much to be desired.

At a news conference in the Hungarian community of Komarom, along the Eurovelo 6 route, the government’s special commissioner on cycling affairs, István Garancsi, said the project is in “advanced negotiations.”

Garancsi noted that he didn’t know the intentions of the Slovak government, whose territory lies on the opposite bank of the river over much of this portion of the route. Regardless of that, the basic concept of the project has been established, he said.

Speaking in the presence of Hungary’s State Secretary for Infrastructure Development Pál Völner, Garancsi said the project could be completed within the current budget cycle.

One of the remarkable things about the announcement is that Garancsi was appointed to his position just last April, and at the time he was unknown to grassroots cycling groups. Formerly the owner of the Fehérvár and Videoton football clubs, he was named to the position by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with the remit of organising recreational cycling and tourism and development of the bike route network and cycling transport.

A Subdued Critical Mass Announcement

BLAST FROM THE PAST? This stolen shot is from 2007.
One of CM's main organisers, Gábor Kürti, is riding third from the left.
The coordinates for the fall Budapest Critical Mass have been announced, albeit in an unusually subdued fashion.

According to a post Wednesday morning at criticalmass.hu, the ride starts at 6.30 p.m. September 22 (European Car Free Day, as usual) in front of the Buda Park Stage (Budai Parkszinpad). This is by the Feneketlen tó at Kosztolányi Dezső tér.

The destination will be Heroes' Square and the bike lift will be in front of the Museum of Fine Arts. The post neglects to indicate what time the lift will be. Neither is the route specified, although that does accord with the tradition of the fall CM. As opposed to the spring event, the fall ride doesn't have a police escort and there is no prescribed, cordoned-off parade route. You ride in traffic and are expected to obey traffic rules.

I would expect a more detailed notice to be posted in the coming days on criticalmass.hu, but I'm not certain. As of Monday, the only hint that there was going to be anything was a facebook page that said there would be a ride but, at that point, divulged few other details. The only hint that CM had any future was a survey posted August 24 with questions about people's opinions on about Critical Mass.

As some readers will remember, organisers put up a cryptic post before last spring's ride declaring that it would be the "first last" Critical Mass. At that point it wasn't clear if they were really calling it a day or merely goading participants into pitching in with more support. But over the ensuing months, there were a couple other impromptu rides (one celebrating the opening of the bike lanes on the kiskörút, the other proposing a toast to the new lanes on Margit Bridge). So with with all that activity, it was my impression that things were just going according to routine and I was sort of expecting that this fall's ride would go off as usual.

However, seeing as it is just over two weeks until Car-Free Day and we've still not seen the customary redesign of the CM website, there's been no call for volunteer escorts, and there's been nothing more than a three-line, incomplete post about it -- well, maybe things ARE winding down on the CM front.

I don't have anymore insight on this. We'll see what the coming days have in store ... .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bike Shop with Beer on Tap

Bike repairs are done right out front. The price list is next to the hat.
Following on a recent post about how bicycles and cycling are being used as a marketing tool, here's an idea that's in the same vein -- sort-of: a bierstube on Római part with a bike wheel on its logo and a conspicuously placed bicycle repair stand out front.

You can't beat the riverside seating at Fellini. Grab a beer, sink into one of these chairs,
and dig your toes into the gravel. Bikram yoga's got nothing on this.
The Fellini Római Kultúrbisztró is a relatively new addition to the many outdoor bars and restaurants along the Római bank. It's a bit to the north of the main cluster of them, and therefore in a quieter, greener setting. It's a tiny place with a seating deck right down on the water and a short drinks list that includes both bottled and draught Belgian beer, including Delirium Tremens.


Come to think of it, I'm not sure if the bike service is used to attract customers to the bar, or vice versa. Római part, being on the Eurovelo 6 route on the main Buda-side bikeway, has always attracted lots of bike traffic. I suppose if you open a bar here, you're going to get cycling customers with or without a bike-repair service. But the Fellini definitely has the market sewn up for cyclists in distress. At any rate, it's a natural place for a bike service -- it's surprising it took so long for someone to think of it.

This is the main cluster of Római part beer joints. Bikes seem to have always been the preferred way to arrive.
They do everything from oiling your chain (HUF 200) to adjusting brakes and gears (HUF 600 each) to chain replacement (HUF 1,100). And the Fellini would seem to be a pleasant place to wait for the work to be done.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Twelve more km of bike routes

Handy file photo of improvements to Varsányi Irén utca in May 2009 
With help from the European Union, Budapest will add 12.4 kilometres to its bike-route network by October.

The planned cycling routes, targeted at commuters coming from the outer agglomeration into the centre, are to be completed by October, according to a report in kerekagy.

The project is expected to receive HUF 694.4 million (EUR 2.6 million) of which HUF 439.6 million (EUR 1.63 million) will come from the EU.

The new routes would add substantially to the city’s existing cycling infrastructure, which runs approximately 187 km, including lanes, dedicated bike paths and other routes. The new bikeways would comprise six separate sections in districts III, X, XVII and XXI.

One route would improve cycling commutes from Csepel Island toward downtown along a 2.9 km stretch of Szabadkikötő út. With a link across the Danube on Kvassay Bridge, it would include two, secure, 30-place bike racks en route.

A second route would run 1.2 kilometres, joining Csepel Island to Pesterzébet across the Gubacsi Bridge. It would include new 32-space bike racks in three places.

Then on Pesti út, two routes would be created in two phases to allow better access to the Metro stop at Örs Vezer tér. Of these two routes, totalling 6.9 km improvement, 2.7 km would be a signed route along low-traffic side streets. Seven bike racks would be installed along the way for a total 66 bikes.
A fifth bike roadwork would connect Kőbánya központ with Örs Vezer tér along a 1.5 km section of Fehér út.

The last element would be in Óbuda, with a bikeway along Bécsi út and Nagyszombat utca. Of this, 800 metres would be a painted lane and 1,400 metres would be a signed route. Along this route, 14 racks for a total of 160 bikes would be installed.

(If this was as tedious to read as it was to write, you can see the maps here.)

During a press announcement, David Vitezy, Managing Director of the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK), indicated that cycling investments would be guided by a more strategic vision than in the past. Infrastructure shouldn’t be built route by route, but rather as an integrated network, he said.

Part of the reason for a more focused approach is an impending investment in a new city bike-sharing system. Comprising 1,000 bikes and 74 docking stations, the system is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012 at a cost of EUR 4.79 million.

“With that many bikes, there’s already a need for a new traffic order,” Vitezy said.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hungary Beats Denmark in Cycling

Image stolen from http://drunk-and-ride.blogspot.com/
Here's a riddle for you (and don't blurt out the answer if you've already heard it!): We all know that the cycling-est country in Europe is the Netherlands. But which country do you suppose comes in second place?

Denmark or Sweden, perhaps?

Those would have been my first guesses, as well. However, according to a Gallup poll published earlier this year by the European Commission, the second cycling-est country in the EU is -- drum roll, please -- Hungary!

What the hell??

I should qualify my terms, here. The study in question, entitled "Future of Transport", was commissioned by the EC's Directorate General Mobility of Transport, and focussed on Europeans' transport habits, their reasons for choosing particular modes, and what it might take for them to switch to, or make greater use of, more sustainable modes than the private car.

It's pretty dry stuff that's intended as guidance material for policy makers and the like. But what made it interesting to me were the results to QUESTION D7: What is the main mode of transport that you use for your daily activities?

Naturally, the Europeans who most favour the bicycle are the Dutch: a full 31.2 percent say it's their main mode of transport.

The Danes ranked quite high, as well, with 19 percent naming the bicycle as their main mode. But that was good enough only for third place; the Danes were slightly edged out by the Hungarians, with 19.1 percent claiming to travel mainly by bicycle.

These survey results were published back in March but didn't catch my eye until I saw mention of them in a recent newsletter of the European Cyclists Federation.

The figures didn't take me completely by surprise. Years ago, when I was studying for a degree in environmental sciences, a Hungarian professor mentioned that prior to the political changes, cycling had something on the order of a 30 percent modal share in this country. However, when asked to cite a source for this statistic, he came up empty.

Still, I'd heard other claims about cycling's popularity in Hungary. During research for my thesis about utility cycling in Budapest, I interviewed an urban planner who said that the bike's modal share in Debrecen, Hungary's second largest city, was 20 percent.

And just recently, I saw a survey published by the Hungarian Statistical Office that showed cycling had an 11 percent share in the country's "distribution of transport modes" (közlekedési módok megoszlása). (There are probably methodological reasons for the 8 percent discrepancy between the Gallop and the Hungarian survey results, but I don't know what they are.)

No doubt, part of the reason I find it hard to accept that Hungary is a front-runner in European cycling is that I don't get out of Budapest enough. Although the city is home to perhaps the largest Critical Mass movement in the world, and is at least a regional front-runner in terms of urban cycling, the fact remains that Budapest is a big city, and big cities are, by default, hostile environments for cycling.

The rest of Hungary is comprised of much, much smaller communities. Even Debrecen, with 200,000 inhabitants, is just a tenth the size of the capital. Less than half the country's population live in cities larger than 10,000 inhabitants. The rest are in very small towns, villages or unincorporated areas.

This is why, despite all the hard work and accomplishments of Budapest's cycling movement over the past six years, the city remains a black spot on the national cycling map. The same Hungarian survey showing an 11 percent share for cycling nationally put the figure for Budapest at a paltry 1.1 percent (2009 figure!).

On my few visits to villages in rural Hungary, I've noticed a cycling culture that has nothing to do with contemporary hipsters and their fixies and messenger bags. It's grannies riding around on creaky one-speed Csepels with rod-actuated brakes and baskets to carry their groceries. Undoubtedly, part of the reason they're on bikes is economics. But it's also due to the fact that in most Hungarian settlements, traffic is calm, distances short and space abundant. And of course there's the Alföldi landscape, which rivals the Netherlands for its topographical blandness.

Still -- there are other countries in the EU with low income levels, small settlements and flat landscapes. There must be more behind Hungary's rich, and largely unknown, utility cycling culture. Just recently, I started work on a project to promote cycling as transport in small and medium-sized towns in Central and Eastern Europe. It will give me a chance to investigate the topic, and I hope to write here about my discoveries.

In the meantime, I'd appreciate any comments from those with insights.

Monday, August 15, 2011

An Open-and-Shut Case

The view from the north of the tunnel shows that cyclists are, again,
riding on the carriageway to get around the ongoing bridge work.
The new bicycle tunnel under the Buda bridgehead of Margit híd was closed shortly after opening last week due to an apparent signage screw-up, reports the index.hu news portal.

The view from the south shows a cyclist coming off the
carriageway and rejoining the bike path.
The signs on the new tunnel indicated that pedestrians, as well as cyclists, are permitted through the tunnel. And according to the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK), that isn't correct. The contractor for the long overdue bridge renovation needs to correct the mistake before the tunnel can reopen, and BKK is certain this will happen "rövidesen", meaning "shortly".

Considering the bridge project has been delayed countless times and has now taken about twice as long as originally planned, we'll take that with a grain of salt.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cycling to Sziget is no Sweat

The entrance on Thursday, six days before day 1 of the Sziget

One of Europe's largest music events, the Sziget Festival, starts next week on Hajógyari (aka Óbudai) Island.

With as many as 390,000 (2009 peak) attending the week-long event, it generates an enormous volume of traffic, particularly over the 4-5 kilometres between downtown Budapest and the festival site.

A number of public-transport options exists, including Budapest Transport Company (BKV) charter buses for inbound and outbound campers; passenger ferries on the Danube, and that old standby, the suburban train (HÉV). All these are fantastic ways to get close-up and personal with your fellow Sziget revelers before you arrive at the massive queues at the island entrance.

Riding the Szentendre HÉV to the Sziget
(Image stolen from http://www.budapestzin.com/2007/08/sziget-2007-day-three.html)
For those who prefer a better ventilated mode of transport, there are bicycles. Designated bike routes on both banks of Danube link downtown with the festival site. And once there, you can take advantage of a free, guarded bike parking lot.

If you want to use the service, you'll need to take your bike through the entrance onto the island, and make your way to the lot, located on some tennis courts near the caravan camping area on the island (#41 on the Sziget map). The service works like a coat check: The bike is tagged and you'll get a receipt, and the volunteers will record the number of your festival entrance wristband along with the bike's ID data: colour, type and serial number.

Check your bike, but don't lose your number!

Volunteers from the Hungarian Cyclists Club tend the lot throughout the festival. At any time, three three of them are on site while a paid festival security guard is always nearby.

The bike parking lot holds 1,000 bikes, and during last year's event, a total of 5,000 bikes were looked after during the full festival period.

The cycling club has helped organise Sziget bike parking for several years, and has been leading the effort since last year's event. According to club Communications Manager Kornél Myat, the club as well as the Sziget organisation offer the service because it's part of their philosophy to support environmentally friendly bicycle transport. The 18 volunteers who staff the lot over the course of the festival also do it because they get free entry passes.

These days, the cycling club is not only providing cycling services at the Sziget Festival, but at a host of other summer events in Hungary, including Balaton Sound, the Hegyalja Festival, the Campus Festival in Debrecen and the Bánkitó Festival.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sewing and cycling

From Shop window bicycles

Here's a window display of a downtown fabric shop. I think this has been on view for some time, but as I passed by it yesterday, I was reminded of a blog post that my friend Jelica had sent me a couple months ago. It was about how cycling had become so cool and trendy that merchants have co-opted it for commercial gain.

They put their product in an ad next to a bicycle, and voila! All of sudden, it seems as young and hip and urban and environmentally chic and devil-may-care as James Dean on a fixie.

I'm sorry to say that the shop window above does not pull this off. This store looks no different today than it did 15 years ago. So the old bikes in the window don't look as much "retro" as they look just plain old.

Still, it's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is Car-Crushing Mayor just a 'Facebook friend'?

I reckon you've seen the clip by now: Vilnius's Mad Max mayor taking care of a bike-lane blocking Mercedes with an eight-wheeled, roof-crushing army tank.

Posted on the morning of August 2, the obviously staged clip (here on a Hungarian blog) shows Mayor Arturas Zuokas strolling along a downtown street that’s devoid of traffic and completely empty – save for one car parked illegally on a bike lane.

Subtitles translate the mayor’s voiceover: “In the past few days, expensive cars have been parked illegally in almost this exact same place.”

The camera pans over an illegally parked Rolls Royce and then a Ferrari.

“What should the city do about drivers who think they are above the law?” he asks. “It seems to me that the best solution is a tank.”

The ensuing sequence shows the mayor driving an enormous, eight-wheeled tank over the offending car, crushing its roof and breaking its windows.

According to reports in various UK dailies, the stunt was staged with a junked car and an actor who posed as the car’s owner.

Posted on the city’s website and the mayor’s Facebook page, the clip went viral as intended. Within 48 hours, the video had 600,000 views on YouTube, while the subtitled version had another 400,000.

But while cycling bloggers the world over hailed Zuokas as the next Ken Livingstone or Bertrand Delanoe, local cyclists in Vilnius were decidedly less impressed.

“We as the Lithuanian Cyclists' Community (LCC) regard this as a pure PR action,” said local activist Frankas Wurft. “It has no influence on the reality and does not change the situation on the main boulevard in Vilnius city centre.”

“There are no more controls by the police or the public order department,” Wurft added.

Not that Zuokas is a complete newcomer to cycling politics. Wurft credited the mayor with a campaign in 2001, in which several hundred orange bicycles were turned loose on the Lithuanian capital’s streets in an early attempt at bike sharing.

But as with almost identical experiments in Amsterdam and other cities beginning in the 1960s, the bikes were all stolen in a matter of days.

The current state of Vilnius cycling politics is not much better, with no plans for new infrastructure and an apparent lack of support for better cycling conditions among the police and administration.

“Strangely, I do not hear anything about the former plans to close parts of the old town to car traffic,” Wurft added. “As I did not see any agenda, I can just regard Mr. Zuokas's action as pure PR.”

Monday, August 1, 2011

Permit at the End of the Tunnel

The long-awaited opening of the cycling tunnel under the Buda bridgehead of Margit híd may yet happen before the end of summer.

This would be a big relief to bike commuters who are now forced to make a death-defying detour into motor traffic.

According to an article in index.hu, the tunnel, which to all appearances seems finished and ready for traffic, cannot be opened due to bureaucratic reasons.

There is a long-winded explanation in this article that I had a hard time deciphering with my "alapfokú" Hungarian. But as far as I could understand, due to the fact that the bridge renovation is a year behind schedule, the government couldn't get a permit from ... the government ... and although the tunnel looks complete, there is műszaki tartalom ("technical content," according to Google Translate) which is not visible to the naked eye, and this has to be checked out by expertly enhanced eyes, and then, if the tunnel passes muster, it might be opened as early as mid-August.

The same goes for the Margit Island stop of the 4-6 tram. Or at least I think it does.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Submarine cycling


Here's a local cycling underpass as it appeared Friday afternoon (July 29). This tunnel lies on the bike path between Békásmegyer and Szentendre on the west side of Route 11. It's been flooded to varying degrees since the middle of the month, when summer apparently decided to clock out early and leave us under overcast skies and a drizzly cold front that seems to have no back end.

This underpass was created 8-9 years ago, when a Cora "hipermarket" opened in Budakalász. To give convenient access for potential customers to the east, they built a huge interchange that brings traffic right under Route 11, over the bike path and into the store's massive parking lot.

At the time, I was pleasantly surprised that they'd forked over for such elaborate infrastructure to maintain the continuity of the mere bike path. But time has shown that the net effect for cyclists has been for the worse. The underpass is a metre or two below grade -- often below the water table as things have turned out.


It's a rough guess, but I bet that at least 20 percent of the time there's at least 15 cm of water under there. At that depth, you can ride slowly through the tunnel, and even keep your feet dry if you're very careful. But during rainy stretches like we've had, it's too deep to cross. So you have to take a detour through the parking lot, around a McDonalds, and across some beaten down dirt paths created by the significant bike traffic that the situation has created.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Drinking and cycling

We were invited for dinner yesterday evening, and I was tasked with picking up a bottle of wine. The most convenient store on the way to dinner was this humungous Auchan I'd never been into, and it was fun looking over a new wine selection.

When I'm looking for a new wine, it's hard to tell what might be good. If you know your stuff, you can look for reputable vintners or reliable combinations of year and region. But I don't know very much about wine, so I rely quite a lot on labels. If it's an old-school design with gothic lettering and hackneyed clip art on it, I figure the vintner isn't up on the latest wine-making techniques. If the design is more contemporary, but just badly put together, I might assume it's some neophyte winemaker who hasn't learned the craft.

I went up and down Auchan's 100-metre wine aisle trying to decipher what all these labels were telling me -- and then I hit on this one, "Tour de Dúzsi." Looks promising, I thought. Inspecting the text on the back, I read: "Támas Dúzsi (the vintner), a former competitive road cyclist, honours wine drinkers with a cuvee that gives an imaginary bike tour with true Szekszárd flavours. This bottle blends the region's most characteristic varietals, and makes for a pleasant accompaniment for bicycle tours."

Which brought to mind a weekend bike excursion among the wineries of the rolling hills of that part of southern Hungary. It's a clever bit of marketing, a piece of text with no objective connection to the product, but a very effective emotional evocation of a kind of good time you can have with wine. It sure had me pegged, anyway.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pictograms Bridge Differences on Margit Híd

Hungarian Cyclist Club President János László straddles a freshly painted pictogram.
Last night, painting crews festooned Margit Bridge with brilliant yellow chevrons and pictograms of bicycles. They appear on the outside lanes of both the north and south carriageways and signify that cyclists, if they choose, are free to mingle with motor traffic in either direction. As part of the deal, the speed limit on the bridge has been reduced from 50 to 40 km/hour with the hope of improving the comfort and safety for cyclists.

I went out there last night to witness the painting, and I had plenty of company. RTL Club and Hír TV had cameras out, Hungarian Cycle Chic was snapping photos and -- no surprise -- Hungarian Cyclist Club President János László (pictured) was there to see the implementation of the traffic compromise he helped broker.

I asked him about the pictogram, whether it's really an acceptable substitute for a proper bike lane. "You know why I like it? It's a symbol of cooperation between the drivers of cars and the drivers of bicycles. It's the first example of this in Budapest."

The carriageway solution won't take away from the planned cycling accommodation on the bridge's sidewalks. On the northern (island side) sidewalk, a bright red lane will soon open as a dual-direction bikeway. On both ends of the bridge, the red lane will have ramps down to the road to facilitate entrance and exit for cyclists riding on the körút from Pest to Buda.

The south-side sidewalk will have no separate lane, but will be open to cyclists nonetheless as a shared-use path with pedestrians.

The arrangement at least tries to serve and respect everyone's needs, including cyclists of many persuasions. I can see reasonable options for everyone here, from professional riders with their courier bags to children with training wheels.
With the sidewalks still under works, a sign remains on the south side telling cyclists to walk their bikes. Not many do.
The changes seem to respect other road users, too. Tram passengers will hardly be affected -- so long as cyclists mind the traffic signal and let people cross the zebra at the Margit Island stop of the 4-6. And, of course, motorists still have their four lanes of traffic -- they'll just have to share two of them.
Accompanying the pictograms will be signs at both bridgeheads featuring a car and cyclist being all lovey-dovey. The still partially shrouded signs were designed by Peter Kukorelli, the same guy who came up with Budapest's "P" shaped bike racks.
Before work began on the bridge about two years ago, there were no cycling accommodations at all. This shortcoming became problematic as cycling levels grew, especially during summer weekends. During the couple summers prior to the renovation, the city began closing down one lane of traffic on weekends for cyclists going to and from the island.

About three years ago, when the renovation was in the planning stage, City Hall agreed to proposals by the Hungarian Cycling Club to include cycling accommodation on both the north and south sides of the bridge.

Then, just weeks before the work was due to start in the summer of 2009, it was learned that the City had unilaterally scratched the south-side bikeway. This provoked a demonstration of some 500 cyclists and then some effective reporting by Hungarian bike blogger András Földes (my summary here) about how the city could lose EU project funding because its grant contract was based on plans that included bikeways on both sides of the bridge.

The City recanted, and then recanted on its recant, and then a new mayor came in, and then the Hungarian Cyclists Club broadcast a YouTube protest saying that the evolving work appeared to short change cyclists ... . Which is all to say that it's been a long road.

But it seems now that this chapter is finally coming to a close. And it seems the pictogram was crucial in wrapping things up. Hard-core advocates had long wanted proper bike lanes on the bridge, but this was legally impossible without sacrificing car lanes. And, naturally, no city administration wants to go there.

The pictograms, a traffic management tool introduced in 2010's modification of the traffic code (KRESZ), raised the possibility of a compromise. They create quasi-bike lanes that fit into, rather than displace, car lanes. They're something along the lines of shared space and it will be interesting to see how many cyclists make use of them.

Without a doubt, though, the whole exercise demonstrated, yet again, that lobbying and political activism can bear fruit. And if advocates have an appetite for more, they might even get the big banana: bikeways around the whole körút. Afterall, what sense does it make to have them on just the Margit Bridge section of this street? In the interest of formal harmony, the bikeways on the bridge need to extend in both directions of the ring road and complete the circle.