Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bike Path Blockade

One man's commuting route is another man's parking lot. Bike path on east side of Road 11 just north of Szentendre Lidl.
Riding into Szentendre this morning (May 13), two vans from the electric utility, ELMŰ, were blocking the bike path. Not headline news, for sure. It seems that bike and pedestrian paths are the go-to parking solution for road-work and utility crews. They're not the only culprits, just some of more frequent offenders.

Parking on bike paths is standard practice and all the more annoying because of it. Although it happens all the time in Hungary, one can imagine a parallel universe, or even a nearby country, where cycling paths are taken seriously.

In this morning's instance, the utility trucks could have pulled onto the weedy strip between the path and the road. Easy, right? I've written a complaint letter to ELMŰ, asking them if they have any policy about this. I mean, their trucks almost never park on roadways. There must be regulations and guidelines about this. Is there no policy at all about bike paths? Or is this a non-issue for ELMŰ? We'll see what their response is.

ELMŰ sent a response to my complaint. Give them credit for being prompt, although sadly it doesn't acknowledge the problem and mainly aggrandizes the urgency of ELMŰ's service: "As can be clearly seen in the photo you sent, our workers didn't park their vehicles on the bike path, but were using them to complete PUBLIC UTILITY work." It goes on to say the tasks are being done to ensure a safe supply of electricity for you all, and it's all being done in compliance with Hungarian rules and traffic regulations.

In my complaint letter, I noted that ELMŰ vehicles frequently block bike paths, and that there are normally convenient ways to avoid this. ELMŰ's reply doesn't acknowledge blocked bike paths as a problem, much less ways to address it.

For the record, here is the verbatim exchange in Hungarian (Thanks to Attila Katona for the editing!):
From: Greg Spencer []
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 10:59 AM
To: Elmű-Émász Ügyfélszolgálati Kft._Budapest
Subject: Panasz a kerékpárúton parkoló járművekről

Tisztelt Hölgyem/Uram!
Ma reggel a 11-es út mentén húzódó kerékpárúton, Szentendrén, két ELMŰ jármű blokkolta az utat. Annak ellenére, hogy van más parkolási lehetőség, ez mégis gyakran előfordul, és nagyon kellemetlen - gyakran kifejezetten veszélyes - a kerékpárral közlekedők számára. Kérem a jövőben vegyék figyelembe a kerékpárral utazókat. Az iránt szeretnék érdeklődni, hogy van-e az ELMŰnél erre vonatkozó előírás?

Greg Spencer

Tisztelt Greg Spencer!
Mint ahogyan a mellékletben, az Ön által elküldött képen is jól látható: A kerékpárúton tartózkodó gépjárművek nem parkolnak, hanem az ott tartózkodó munkatársaink munkaeszközeként, KÖZÜZEMI munkát végeznek. Azért dolgoznak, hogy biztosítsák Önök számára, a biztonságos villamos energia ellátást! Az ilyen munkavégzésekre a törvény is külön jogszabályokban foglalkozik. (KRESZ közüzemi munkavégzést ellátó gépjárművek)

Kovács János
Gépjármű osztály
Budapesti Elektromos Művek Nyrt. 


Anonymous said...

This is my pet hate. I get irrationally angry and usually end up in a nasty argument with the drivers (I take pictures, anywhere to send them to?).Beer delivery drivers on the small korut, and taxi drivers everywhere are the worst (one tried to hit me when I complained).

Jerome Simpson said...

Yes, that's the risk, anonymous, i.e. one get's hit ) - and this poor chap didn't even make a photograph!! Let's keep up the pressure )

Greg Spencer said...

Hi Anonymous, I've been involved in many shouting matches myself. Who of us hasn't? But I believe change will only come through civil means. Send me some of your photos, please. They'll come in handy for presentations and blog posts.

Stephen Grimes said...

Same issue with bike lanes in Philadelphia. The parking authority even has a hash tag on twitter to report offenses, but little progress has been made in ticketing offenders.

Rachel Hideg said...

Hi, Well done for writing, Greg! My solution was to cycle on the road itself to get round the van, and I did think at the time how ironic it would be if I got stopped and fined for daring to be on Road 11 on a bike...

Anonymous said...

Looks like the perfect excuse to leave a looooooong scratch on either one or both of the vans. "Ah, sorry, I had to squeeze past your van and my key just happened to stick out a bit" ;)

Cheers, Eric