Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One More for the Road

So this Saturday, April 20, will be the last Budapest Critical Mass. That's what they say, anyway, and although I'm skeptical, I was very relieved to have gotten my hands on the sticker (slogan: "Critical Mass Forever") and I will definitely NOT make other plans for the weekend.

According to the spring CM tradition, the event will happen on Earth Day, and the route will be closed to motor traffic and everyone is encouraged to come out, children included.

It'll start at 3:55 p.m. on the Pest riverside road just north of Margit hid (Carl Lutz rakpart). This is the same place it started in spring of 2012 (above video) -- the road will be closed to motor traffic and it's wide enough to accommodate a huge crowd for the opening bike lift.

The route (details here) will go across the Chain Bridge and through the tunnel to the Taban, and will eventually return to Pest and end up at City Park for the closing bike lift -- at about 6:30 p.m.

From 7:30 p.m. til 4 a.m., an after party will take place at the Akvárium Klub (former Gödör) at Erzsébet tér. As in past years, the party will follow a bike-fashion theme and is co-organised by the Hungarian Cycle Chic blog. But now it seems they've got a bunch of sponsors (e.g. InStyle magazine and H&M clothing) and added features include a big musical lineup. Cover is HUF 1,000.

CM organisers Kuku and Sinya (co-owners of Hajtas Pajtas bike couriers) announced last year that this would be the last CM. They explained that, now that everyday cycling is established in Budapest, CM has served its purpose. Although modal share needs to keep growing, the two activists are convinced that CM is no longer the right tool for the job, that the bike community has to redirect its energies and resources toward professional lobbying. Kuku and Sinya are involved with the Hungarian Cyclists Club, and they have made repeated appeals for cyclists to support the organisation with donations and volunteer help.

The decision to call it a day was met by emotional protest from the green shirts who have helped promote and carry out CM for the past nine years. However, I still haven't heard of any concrete plans by anyone to take up the CM mantle and carry on the tradition. It's hard to believe that an event this popular will just die in its tracks. But in any case, I don't want to miss it.

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