Monday, March 31, 2014

Parliament Promenade

For the last couple years, the area around Parliament was a dusty construction zone walled off with chip board and fences. The boards came down a couple weeks ago -- in time for the national elections -- to reveal an enormous level space of concrete and cut stone.

Aside from a huge new statue of national hero Lajos Kossuth, it's as flat and open as the Hungarian Great Plain. Some would call it "austere" -- in fact, my wife said exactly that. But it got thumbs up all around for being closed to cars. The tram tracks look to be in the same place. The asphalt street has been replaced by a stone tiled surface with little bicycle pictograms etched in about every 20 metres. They're pretty subtle and the signage is spare, as well. It's basically designed as a shared space where cyclists and pedestrians co-mingle. Except at stops, there's no curb or other barrier to isolate the tram tracks. You have a feeling it'd be really easy for a child to step across the tram tracks at the wrong moment, but trams on Saturday were going quite slowly, probably for this reason.

For cyclists, this square used to be a bit of a hazard. You'd either ride on the narrow bike path near the Parliament -- and on weekends always contend with droves of camera-toting tourists. Or you'd go on the street where you'd be caught between speeding cars and parked tourist buses in front of the Ethnographic Museum. Now you have space galore. It's unregulated, and you have to watch where you're going, but it feels a lot more relaxed and pleasant.

Friday, March 14, 2014

New Docks on the Blocks

A newly installed überstation with 30 bike docks across from the Nagy Vásárcsarnok at the foot of Szabadság Bridge.
A cycling contact of mine saw my last post about how the installation of Bubi's docking points had gotten off to a late start, but he says HE heard the system will launch on time.

Russell Meddin, a contributor to the Bike-Sharing Blog, said:
I spoke with the owner of Nextbike (one of the technology last week while he was in Washington, Dc. He told me with almost certainty that Budapest will launch on 7 April!!! 

But then added:
Almost every launch I've watched has slipped a few days or so! 
In any case, I noticed a report this week of further stations cropping up in downtown, and Thursday afternoon I went out hunting for others. I saw a newly installed one across the street from the Nagy Vásárcsarnok and another one along the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út bike path.
Here's a new one at the corner of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út and Kálmán Imre utca.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bike-share docks hit the streets -- finally

Here's Sequoia modelling in front of the Bubi terminal by Kodály körönd.
The first docking points for Budapest's planned bike-sharing system were installed last week. Transport authority BKK had said the installation would begin in February, which puts the work a month behind stated schedule. However, the planned launch for the system remains in April. We'll see if they stick to it -- keeping in mind the timeline has already slipped three years (Bubi was originally supposed to launch in 2011). 

According to BKK's Facebook page, the first installed docking points numbered four, all in District VI. They're at the following intersections: Teréz körút–Király utca, Kodály körönd, Városligeti fasor–Dózsa György utca, and Andrássy út–Káldy Gyula utca.

I took a quick ride out Saturday and took photos of three of them. They're all installed on the street, displacing space formerly used for car parking -- cool! They have 20 bike docks each. The rent-out consoles aren't ready to go, yet. Looks like further electronics work is needed before they're operational. And no sign of any bikes, yet.

The entire Mol Bubi system will comprise 75 docking stations and more than 1,000 bikes, mostly in central Pest but also along the Buda bank of the Danube, Margit Sziget and on up to Déli station. Here's a map.

... at the corner of Teréz körút–Király utca.

... at the corner of Városligeti fasor–Dózsa György utca.
Docking point.