The pros and cons of cycling in Budapest
Budapest often appears as a great holiday destination among European cities, but not so often as an ideal city for cyclists. Bicycling.com collected some of the reasons why Budapest has much to offer for bike lovers.
Great scenery on both sides of the river
Whether you take a ride in the hills of Buda, and climb the 526-metre-high János Hill for a great view of the city from above, or visit tourist attractions, outdoor cafés, and ruin pubs on the streets of Pest, the city has many interesting sights for cyclists.
MOL Bubi bike share program
MOL Bubi is the first bike share in the city, which has become very popular among locals and tourist alike. The green bikes can be rented from 98 stations, and they cost 500 forints (€1.59) for 24 hours, 1000 forints for 3 days (€3.17), and 2000 forints for a week (€6.34). Already in their first year of operation, the bikes have been used more than 1 million times.
Chainless bikes by Stringbike
Stringbike is a company manufacturing bikes that use a rope instead of bike chains, thus their innovative bikes promise a smoother ride. The bikes can be tried out at various local events, but they also offer private tours in the city.
Cycling by the Danube in Europe
The EuroVelo6 is a 3,200 km bike route that follows the River Danube and spans 10 European countries, including Hungary. From Budapest, cyclists can head west though Bratislava, Vienna, and Germany, all the way to France, or go south, through Serbia, towards the Romanian-Bulgarian border.
Tourists might find the cycling opportunities a pleasant change from the kilometres of walking that is often associated with holidays, but local commuters have much to say about the state of the bike paths in Budapest. Vs.hu reported on some of the shortcomings of the Budapest cycling scene.
Conflict between pedestrians and cyclists
The main issue with the infrastructure is that many bike paths run on the pavement. In many parts of the city, cyclists are forced to use the pavement since there is either no designated bike path or it is not clearly separated from the pavement. When there is great traffic, neither parties can use their own lane properly, and this will be an inevitable source of conflict.
Badly maintained paths
Even if new and more practical bike paths get built, there are rarely any resources nor the necessary technology to properly maintain them, so their condition often just keeps deteriorating.
Many people choose commuting by bike as a healthy and more environmental friendly alternative to driving or taking public transport. However, as Daily News Hungary recently reported, air pollution in Hungary is at critical levels. In fact, Hungary ranked second on the list of countries where air pollution related deaths are the highest. The capital city is undoubtedly the worst when it comes to the quality of air, which puts cyclists in a vulnerable position.
Behind European standards
Although there are noticeable developments, in many respects the bike paths of Budapest are behind those of more advanced European cities. In Brussels from 2004, in Paris from 2008 cyclists can use every one-way street where the traffic and the width of the street allow it. In Germany, all bike paths have been relocated from the pavement to the side of the road. Although the advancement is understandable, since developments began much earlier, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Budapest has a lot to catch up on, but the numbers show that it is on the right track. Currently the city has more than 240 km of bike paths, and in 2013, Hungary was the fourth country in the EU, following the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland, with regards to frequent cycling among its citizens.
Copy editor: bm
Source: bicycling.com; vs.hu