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Budapest rolls out red ‘carpet’ for cyclists (Hungary)

By Jan Christiaens / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
With the installation of two bright red cycling lanes on Budapest’s grand boulevard, the city says it has embraced a new approach to cycling infrastructure that follows European best practice.
The project involves a reconfiguration of existing infrastructure on Andrássy Avenue: the old bike lanes ran down a harrowing narrow gap between the gutter and parked cars. The project simply switched the positions of the cars and bike lanes. Now the parking hugs the curb and cyclists ride on the other side next to moving traffic.

The new configuration rectifies two problems. First, the curbside lanes made cyclists vulnerable to getting doored, not only because they were too close to the parked cars, but also because people exiting cars on the passenger side are less likely to look over their shoulder before opening the door.

The second issue related to a general problem with cycling accommodation that is hidden from traffic (in this case by a barrier of parked cars). Car drivers are not aware of the cyclists, so when they cross paths at intersections, motorists are caught by surprise.

Cycling advocates have pointed out these problems since bike lanes were first proposed on Andrássy Avenue in the early 1990s. However, city traffic engineers ignored international practice, and insisted that the safest solution would be to isolate cyclists from moving traffic.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony in late May, Mayor István Tarlós acknowledged that the old alignment endangered cyclists and raised anxiety among motorists. “It was uncomfortable for everyone,” Tarlós said.

The new alignment, designed and implemented in consultation with representatives of the cycling community, will set an example for future projects, the mayor added. “Cycling paths won’t be made, as before, when it was the practice to paint a yellow line on the sidewalk, with one side for cyclists and the other for pedestrians,” Tarlós said. He noted that cycling infrastructure now being implemented in the outer parts of the city will be built, as on Andrássy Avenue, according to contemporary standards.

Along with the more open placement and bright marking, the new lanes are no longer interrupted by rough cobblestone sections at bus stops. The cobblestones have been replaced with flat flagstones to make for smoother riding.

After the opening ceremony, participants in the Budapest Critical Mass community staged a procession up and down the new bike paths. They dubbed the demonstration “Happy Mass.”

Source: MNO (in Hungarian)

Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flissphil/2853518062/sizes/z/in/photostream/
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