The bike protests of civil organisation Critical Mass may have met with increasing approval among politicians, yet they appear to have little actual influence on politics. “We have received the promise that the construction of cycle paths will be considered from now in all road renovation projects. That’s true on paper, but in reality there is little sign of that happening,” complained János László from the Hungarian Cycling Club (MKK) last week.
According to László, cycle paths have been entirely overlooked within the “Heart of Budapest” programme, which is designed to redevelop the area between Szabadság Bridge and Astoria. “We were consulted during the preparations for the programme. The construction of a cycle path on the Kiskörút between Deák tér and Kálvin tér was seriously taken into consideration,” Gábor Kürti, organiser of Critical Mass said. Yet, when the programme was finally approved by the Budapest Council last week, there was no longer any mention of a cycle path.
In response Critical Mass and MKK rounded up their cyclists and organised a spontaneous demonstration. Beforehand János László met with representatives of the Budapest city council to put forward the views of the cyclists. “Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky has assured us that he will re-examine the programme,” said Kürti. Demszky is to reach a decision within the next two weeks. In the run up to last autumn’s local elections, Demszky had listed bicycle paths as one of his top priorities.
Until then the cyclists intend to exercise patience, said Kürti: “We are planning a demonstration, but we will show consideration for drivers. That means we will protest at the weekend and not block off the whole distance. We will simply show where the cycle path should be built. We will cycle a few laps there at the edge of the road.”