Davva reports from Budapest

Budapest : cool bike culture

This story is part of our youReport series.

This grand old European city of Budapest is ranking 13th in the Copenghagenize Index of bicycle-friendly cities. It deserves that for its strong advocacy (yes, Copenhagenize hand out points for that) and its bike culture. Bike modal share figures are hard to come by. In 2010 it has been suggested Budapest had breached the 5% mark (twice than the bike share in Newcastle). What does the casual observer think? Davva reports.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to do some voluntary work in Budapest. Although I didn’t cycle while I was there, I was interested to see if the locals did and what cycling provision there is in the city. It’s a beautiful old city, a UNESCO world heritage site in fact, despite this there still seems to be plenty room for cyclists and other road users. Budapest lies on the Danube and is relatively flat. There are shared cycle and pedestrian paths on the west bank of the river (photo, lower left).

The city has a comprehensive tram network and cycles are kept away from the tram lines. I noticed a couple of women in their early 20s easily kept up with the tram I was on, as we rolled through the centre of town, which showed that cycling is just a quick as public transport there. The day time temperatures in Budapest were hitting 40oC while I was there. Even so, I saw plenty of cycle commuters using a variety of bikes: I even spotted a recumbent and a cargo bike (photo, upper right). The owner of the cargo bike and I had a good natter about cycling. He’d been to London several times and thought Hungary had similar cycling rates.

A couple of other little things I noticed were that no one wore helmets, and I also found a cool little bike shop near where I was staying. So there’s enough bike trade to support small businesses.

Budapest collage
Photo – a cool city, with cool bikes, and a collage postcard to celebrate that