Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pretext for removing bike-bus lanes?

The fast way to bike Bajcsy.
It looks like the mayor is getting set to close down Budapest's ground-breaking shared bus-bike lanes on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky ut. Mayor István Tarlós declared earlier this year that he didn't approve of the lanes -- or practically anything else that has to do with non-car urban transport. And in recent days, city road crews have been spotted conducting traffic counts of cyclists using the lanes, according to a post on the I Bike Budapest Facebook page. Looks like a pretext for shutting the lanes to bike traffic.

The bike-bus lanes were created in spring 2013 as an alternative to the narrow two-way bike lane on Bajcsy's west-side sidewalk. For various reasons, many cyclists prefer to ride on the street on Bajcsy, but because buses are prioritised on the Bajcsy's outside lanes, cyclists were not allowed to ride there.

By law, unless cyclists are given explicit permission to share a bus lane, they're supposed to ride in the second lane over, and not along the curb where slower traffic normally belongs. It was a contradiction in the traffic regime: In order to ride legally, cyclists had to ride between lanes of faster motor traffic. It's a dangerous place to be and shared bike-bus lanes were meant to correct the problem.

The mayor has said he doesn't like cyclists to be in bus lanes because it slows down bus traffic. Which is an odd justification for a mayor who otherwise seems opposed to buses -- or any form of transport other than a single-passenger occupied vehicle.

Bad times for sustainable transport in Budapest. But a good time to be an activist.