Extract from the interview with Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Vice Mayor of Budapest on 21 April 2016
Duration: 25 min
Kloss: How do you get people on bikes in Budapest?
Szalay-Bobrovniczky: We have 190 km of bicycle lanes plus 65km of separately built bicycle paths, mostly developed in the last 3-4 years. Until 2019 we will conduct 29 projects dealing with bicycle route and infrastructure development. We hope that you have already seen the bicycle sharing system that we have launched in 2014 with 75 stations and 1100 bicycles. Since that we have raised the number of stations to 98 and the number of bicycles to 1150.
We are facilitating education programmes to educate people how to use bicycles in the city. We also introduced free pumping stations in several parts of the city. The placements of the stations were coordinated together with the bicycle clubs.
We are building parking lots for bicycles near subway and railway stations in the centre and in the outskirts.
The municipal company for public transportation is always considering the needs and demands of the bicycle users in the city, so when starting some developments the company is always consulting with the bicycle community. They are also conducting some polls from time to time when they are checking the demands and requests from this part of society.
Having all this I really hope that we are a successful cycling city, a friendly city for the cyclists, that this tendency will get on in the future as well and that the society will think the same as we do.
Kloss: Is there a quantitative goal for the share of cyclists (now 1 – 2 %)?
Szalay-Bobrovniczky: I don’t know specific data about this, maybe the responsible for city development or the municipal company for transport could tell you more. The city is placing the demands and needs of the bicycle users in the first place. So when there is a new request that appears from the society and citizens of Budapest it is always important to consider it and make developments according to that.
Gruszyk: What are the challenges to make Budapest more bike-friendly?
Szalay-Bobrovniczky: There are always classic challenges appearing with the four means of transportation – walking, bicycle, public transport and car. Often there are difficulties in understanding each other but certainly most people are combining these means of transport so we cannot say that one is using only one of these. Of course from time to time there are conflicts and we have to facilitate the understanding between the different transport users.
Kloss: Do you have a number how many people are using the car every day?
Szalay-Bobrovniczky: We don’t have this information.
Kloss: Most of the space is consumed by cars. Many people we spoke to in Budapest said they would use the bike when there would be fewer cars. Do you think the city could have a higher quality of life when there would be fewer cars?
Szalay-Bobrovniczky: This is a very difficult question. This sentence shows us that there is a great need for cars. People are choosing the car, so it’s obviously popular. We don’t want to tell people which means of transportation they should choose.