Following the recent growth in the number of cyclists, as well as in the number of bus lanes, a decade-old taboo was broken in 2012: bikes are now allowed in 10 selected bus lanes. The initial experiences show positive results.
Background & Objectives
For decades the Hungarian traffic code was clear: biking was not allowed in bus lanes. In such cases, cyclists had to ride in the inner lanes, dedicated to general car traffic. With the increased level of motorisation as well as the higher number of cyclists, this situation has led to many dangerous situations and to regular conflicts between car drivers and cyclists.
Since 2010, the Budapest transport system has been supervised by the Budapest Transport Centre, which is a municipal agency in charge of overseeing all forms of transport in an integrated manner. Trying to sort out the transport problems of the Hungarian capital, in its initial years it has allocated a number of new bus lanes, increasing the attractiveness of public transport. However, at the same time a solution had to be found for cyclists as well. In dense urban areas there was simply no space for dedicated new bike lanes.
Following international experiences, cycling was then allowed in 10 dedicated bus lanes. These lanes have bus and also bike symbols painted on the road surface.>Altogether 23 existing road signs were modified, 19 new signs were installed, and 141 road pictograms were painted. To minimise disturbance to traffic, the works were carefully planned and were implemented during vacation time, in merely two weeks (August 3-16).
It is definitely safer to ride the bike in the clear bus lanes than in the congested car lanes. Moreover, the seeming conflict between buses and cyclists has not manifested. Both proceed at about the same speed, when taking into account the number of stops the buses have to make. For this reason, cyclists need to wait behind a bus exchanging passengers only once. The same way, a bus only needs to overtake a cyclist only once as well. If the lane width does not allow this, it can still proceed much faster behind a cyclist than in the adjacent congested car lane.
The joint bus-bike lanes proved to be able to be very well integrated into Budapest’s transport system, at the selected locations where it’s relatively acceptable for the buses to be held up by cyclists, or where buses don’t run very frequently. Now that cyclists are removed from the internal car lanes at these locations, traffic and safety has improved there as well.