Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cited for biking on the bike path

Some other poor sap. Photo stolen from:
I got a HUF 10,000 citation (EUR 33) this morning for riding my bike on the bike path.

If you've ever ridden on the Buda-side Eurovelo route north from Margit hid, you can probably guess where it happened. It's on the pedestrian / bike overpass near the Tímár utca HÉV stop. Despite this being part of the official bike path, it's forbidden to ride your bike here. Signs on both ends of the bridge indicate that you're supposed to dismount and push your bike over the bridge.

Because it's on my work commute, I go over this bridge twice a day everyday. I know the rule and understand the rationale. There are lots of people on foot on this bridge because it connects a huge housing estate to the HEV stop. Even so, I figure if I slow down and refrain from mowing down children and senior citizens, I can stay on the bike and still be within the "spirit" of the law.

I mean, why should I have to get off my bike on a bike path? It's bad enough that they forbid cycling on public streets, as on any major street where there's an adjacent, separate bike path available. Bike paths are no longer an option in Hungary, they're compulsory. But to forbid cycling on the bike path itself?? That's really the final insult.

The officers who ticketed me this morning explained how it's only for a small section, that it's for the protection of pedestrians, and how making a separate crossing for cyclists would be a huge investment. Mind you, the Hungarian government spends HUF 63 billion for car infrastructure like the Megyeri hid. But somehow, it can't shell out an infinitesimal fraction of that to solve a problem for cyclists.

I was pleased this morning that one passing cyclist (who was canny enough to have gotten off her bike) stopped to make some of these arguments to the officers who has ticketed me. She didn't get anywhere with them but at least made an effort.

But what can you do? I've crossed this bridge a thousand times without getting ticketed. My number was long overdue. If you read this, though, let it be a warning. Approach this bridge with caution -- it's cycling season, and the Obuda public space patrols have baited their hooks.

According to the kerekagy blog, a more bike-friendly solution to the problem is planned for 2015. We'll see.

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