Now that the red paint has dried, a formal ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Opera. Mayor István Tarlos will preside along with head of the Budapest Transport Centre Dávid Vitezy. Critical Mass organiser Gábor Kürti, who spearheaded recent lobbying efforts for the bike lane change, has issued a facebook invite to get cyclists to show their appreciation. He's called for two processions up and down the new lanes -- one immediately after the christening ceremony and another at 5:30 p.m. -- for the sake of working people who can't attend the first.
The new configuration rectifies problems that cyclists had pointed out before bike lanes were first installed on Andrássy in the 1990s. First, the curbside lanes made cyclists vulnerable to getting "doored," not only because they were too close to the parking, but also because people exiting cars on the passenger side are less likely to look over their shoulder before opening the door.
The second issue related to a general problem with cycling accommodation that is hidden from traffic (in this case by a barrier of parked cars). Car drivers aren't aware of the cyclists, so when they cross paths at intersections, motorists are caught by surprise.
When the curbside lanes were created on Andrássy, the prevailing wisdom (i.e., ignorance) held that the safest solution was to separate cyclists from traffic. It was feared that if the bikes lanes ran next to car traffic, cyclists might swerve in front of vehicles, particularly when confronted with opening car doors.
The new arrangement, though, makes this fear seem unwarranted. For one, a gap of about one metre is left between car parking and the bike lanes, which is sufficient clearance to avoid getting doored. For another, when you're on these open bike lanes -- as opposed to being hemmed in between a row of cars and a sidewalk -- you feel you can see everything, that motorists can see you and that you have room for maneuver if you need it.
Tuesday's bike ride is being called a Happy Mass. It'll be the third such ride after earlier ones celebrating the creation the bike lanes on the Kiskörút and Thököly út. Political lobbying isn't just about petitioning, it's also about honoring those who deliver the goods.