Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cycling Group Turns Other Cheek

Here's one I don't know WHAT to make of: The European Cycling Federation, last week snubbed by Budapest City Hall, which decided to renege on its commitment to host the ECF's 2013 Velo-City conference, is now showering the Hungarians with praise.

According to a Tuesday press release from the ECF, in its use of EU transport subsidies, Hungary spends about twice as much on cycling as the average country. My first question is, "Where's all the money going?" Maybe there are some fantastic cycling routes in the hinterland that I'm not aware of. But judging by the main ones, as in the government's self-declared top-priority routes -- the Eurovelo 6 and the circuit around Balaton -- the money has not yielded great results.

The second question is, "Why is the ECF showering Hungary with praise just now?" As I noted in my previous post, Budapest last year had won the honor of hosting the ECF's biannual conference, Velo-City, in 2013, but last Friday, the Tarlos administration renegged on the deal, citing an unspecified legal problem.

Then, just as the ECF scratched Budapest from the Velo-City conference page on its website, here comes a press release with the organisation's president, Bernie Ensink (right in photo), shaking the hand of Hungarian Tourism Minister Endre Horvath (sorry: Doctor Endre Horvath -- other guy in photo), and a message congratulating him on Hungary's outstanding record on cycling spending.

Of course, we have to recognise that Budapest City Hall IS NOT the Hungarian government (even if they're both run by the same party). At any rate, it sure seems sporting of the ECF. It can't be a small effort to identify a host city for an event as huge as Velo-City (400-500 guests, EUR 400,000 cost). At present, according to ECF's site, the host application process is reopened and starting from scratch. Maybe ECF is hoping the public kudos they've bestowed on the Hungarian government will inspire Budapest City Hall to rethink its withdrawal from such a prestigious cycling event.

No comments: