The Hungarian Cyclists’ Club aims to popularise cycling as a mode of transport, raise its significance, create its culture, and improve its conditions. They regularly organize great events throughout the year like I Bike Budapest and Bike to Work days.
INTERVIEW WITH ÁRON HALÁSZ OF THE HUNGARIAN CYCLISTS’ CLUB
What are the rules of the road for cyclists in Budapest?
In general, cyclists are allowed to ride anywhere, as long as it is not marked as forbidden for bicycles. Dedicated bicycle infrastructure in Budapest is very heterogeneous. There are cycle-specific traffic signs on roads, cycle lanes, shared bus lanes, cycle paths, shared pedestrian paths, and on one-way streets that are open for two-way cycle traffic.
Cyclists must use dedicated bicycle infrastructure unless pedestrians or some physical barrier limits cycling conditions there.
It is very common in Budapest that cyclists use the right lane of roads even if they are not dedicated for cycling since cycle paths frequently – especially shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians – become crowded. For example, on the Buda side, the north-south quay between Batthyány Square and the Liberty Bridge is barely cycleable during tourist season.
How should I equip my bicycle?
Cyclists need lights in the front and back, reflectors on their wheels, good brakes and for those who cycle regularly in the Buda hills, gears are needed.
The Hungarian Cyclists’ Club has two useful recommendations for bicycle commuters:
1. Ride a cheap bicycle and use an expensive lock.
2. While the law does not require cyclists to wear helmets, the Club recommends that you decide this for yourself, depending on your destination and routine.
The point is to keep the entry threshold for cycling in Hungary as low as possible. The Club wants as many people to ride their bicycle as often as possible each and every day.
Is it compulsory to wear a helmet?
It is up to cyclists as to whether or not they want to wear a helmet within the city. On roads where the speed limit is below 40 km/h, cyclists are not required to wear helmets. Where the speed limit
is above 40 km/h (outside the city) helmets are required.
Regarding children, it is up to parents as to whether or not they would like their kids to wear helmets while cycling.
What is the 1.5 Meter Passing Rule?
There is a worldwide safety campaign that states that cars should keep a minimum of 1 meter of distance when passing cyclists on the road within the city and 1.5 meters outside the city. Elsewhere the distance is related to speed limits. The key here is the speed difference between the driver and the cyclist when passing. Some countries have already adopted this into law: France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the UK, Canada, Australia, South-Africa and Romania.
The objective of the Hungarian campaign is to make roads safe for all road users no matter their mode of transportation.
Ride confidently. Drivers are aware of cyclists, but the more confident you are, the more they cooperate. Nothing beats mutual attention and good old eye-contact.
How do drivers in Budapest respond to cyclists?
Drivers’ attitudes toward cyclists are as colorful as the above mentioned infrastructural solutions throughout Budapest. It can range from honking at cyclists and giving them dangerously little space when passing to giving them more than
1-1.5 meter by switching lanes or even slowing down when passing them.
Infrastructural problems, bad road conditions, surface and road signs problems can be reported (in Hungarian) on the website: jarokelo.hu.