Thursday, June 18, 2015

Szentendre Opens "Car-Freer" Riverfront

On the river side of the korzo, a 3-metre-wide pedestrian strip has displaced street parking. Nice move, Szentendre! The other side of the street is still chock-a-block with cars despite the ban on parking.
The Szentendre riverfront strip has been redesigned in a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly way. But those who expected a car-free "korzó" this summer will be disappointed.

The main change affects the strip of cafes and restaurants from Péter Pál utca to Lázár cár tér. Here, at least according to the city's communications, 53 on-street parking spaces have been eliminated and in their place is a 3-metre-wide pedestrian lane on one side of the street, and expanded restaurant space on the other side. On the one-way traffic lane in between, they've painted yellow chevron markers indicating that cycling is permissible in both directions. Cycling's been permissible in both directions for some time, but the markings hopefully make this clearer to motorists.
On the cafe side of the strip, road crews painted a dashed line that separates traffic from restaurant space. Some restaurants have already occupied their space fully, right up to the line, with flower pots and seating. But where they haven't, motorists continue to park cars in violation of the new rules. This will need some education and enforcement.
As you can see, the changes are ad hoc and not terribly attractive, but the city didn't have funds for a better solution. City Hall says this is a pilot scheme that will be evaluated after the summer season, and if it's seen as successful, the korzó will be redesigned permanently. If and when there's funding, which is a challenge for the perpetually cash-strapped local government.

North of the cafe strip they've created diagonal on-street parking spots, and they're currently in the last phase of constructing an 80-spot parking lot south of Bükkös Creek -- a five-minute walk from the strip. This more than compensates for the eliminated spots in front of the cafes. In fact, doing the math, there's a net addition of 27 parking spots, although you can bet that motorists will complain.

The changes are positive, but the concept of a car-free korzó remains a dream. It's too bad because I believe this would be a huge boon for tourism and be accepted by the traveling public in short order. Motorists who make the korzó a destination now have ample parking within a few-minute walk and those who use it as a transit route have a perfectly good alternative on Route 11.

But for now, we have to settle for a "car-freer" korzó. Our inside sources say this is part of a step-by-step process that will eventually lead to a completely car-free riverfront. Naturally, time will tell.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cycling Allowed on Bike Path! Yay!

Here be the thing I'm talking about.
From June 30, cyclists will finally be allowed to cycle on the Timar utca overpass of the Buda bank bike path.

According to blog, authorities finally gave in to reason, and will remove a long-standing rule that effectively forbade people from riding bikes on a bike path.

The ban applies to a section of the Eurovelo 6 bike path that takes cyclists over Árpád fejdelem via a shared-use pedestrian/cyclist bridge at the Timar utca HÉV stop. Signs on the overpass approaches (still existing) indicate that cyclists must dismount and push their bikes over the bridge. Ostensibly, the rule is there to protect pedestrians, and police have taken it seriously. In recent years, they've set up periodic dragnets and handed out steep fines to cyclists who don't comply, me, for example.

There's been talk for at least a couple years about construction of a separate bicycle bypass. However, according to the article, authorities are still in the process of obtaining property easements and the thing won't be built for at least two more years. In the meantime, they're lifting the riding restriction, while also requiring that cyclists keep their speeds below 10 km/hr on the bridge.

It's ironic that cars on the street below are whizzing by at 40-50 km/hr, and posing a much greater threat to the many pedestrians who cross on the surface to hasten their passage. This bridge is based on an outdated approach in which urban traffic management was nothing more than greasing the road system to allow for high-flow, fast motor traffic. In this view, pedestrians are obstacles, and infrastructure is designed to get them out of the way. We'll see what the "bicycle bypass" will look like, but from the way it's referenced, we can predict an old-school approach.