Monday, March 4, 2013

Tree-hugging weekend

Along with the people were tons of police and of course, the obligatory soft-pretzel vendor.
I also saw some LMP politicians working the crowd.
Quite a good turnout at Római part on Saturday. We estimated maybe 2,000 people, give or take a thousand. Who knows? The important thing is, we completely plugged up the riverfront path where the organisers set up their PA system. So for the space available, we were an overwhelming presence, which is as much as you can ask of a protest.

We were there demonstrating against a big flood-protection scheme that would devastate the riverbank and wipe out thousands of trees. A "respected" news site, HVG -- kind-of Hungary's equivalent to The Economist -- called it "Fák off" -- "fák" being Hungarian for "trees".

We went out there with both kids by bike, our two-year-old in the child's seat and our eight-year-old riding his own bike. The closer we got to Római part, the heavier the bike traffic got. By the time we got to the Újpesti vasúti híd, there were huge clusters of cyclists caravaning in front of us and in back and parked along the side of the road. It was looking like a Critical Mass.

There's Lance, Kristin and Sequoia. Soon after we arrived, Lance wandered off into the milling masses and left me on the riverbank, panicked, as I rode herd over Sequoia hoping to limit our losses. Kristin found Lance way up the riverbank throwing rocks and after he rejoined us, Sequoia walked up to the river's edge and promptly tripped into the water. It was a chilly ride back home for her.
A Budapest landscape architect, Bardóczi Sándor, editor of the Építészfórum website, gave a talk proposing a sensible alternative to the massive earthworks that's being proposed. Bardóczi notes that the existing fences at the top of the bank, running between the riverfront bars and restaurants, could be built into a flood-proof bulwark that would protect properties further inland. This would avoid a major earth moving project that would wipe out all the trees along the water and destroy the riverbank.

Hope Sányi's arguments -- and the presence of all us citizen protesters -- will have some effect.

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