Szeged Is Hungary’s Amsterdam
- these were the opening words of János Árva, a member of the Bikers’ Club in Szeged, at the sixth online workshop of this year’s campaign of the Hungarian Bikers’ Club’ named Bike To Work! These events, which are key elements of this year’s campaign, are organised for companies and municipal governments open to supporting bicycle use.
Each of the monthly online workshops, which are free but have a registration obligation, is held in a different city and is tailored to local needs. The first one was held in Budapest in April, the second in Székesfehérvár in May, then one was in Győr, the next in Kecskemét in July, one in Miskolc in early September, the next in Szeged at the end of the same month, and there will be one more, in Debrecen, in October.
In his introduction, János Árva briefly outlined the advantages of cycling to society, the environment and companies. The next speaker was Áron Halász, Vice President of the Bikers’ Club, who spoke about the situation of bicycle use, with a special focus on the South Hungary Region, where, according to an earlier survey of the Club, 35 percent of the population use the bicycle as the primary means of transport, and Szeged takes the lead, which makes the Amsterdam comparison valid.
The Regional Unit of the Bikers’ Club plays a significant role in bikers’ public life: among its decade-long activities, it has organised Critical Mass events, group biking on Fridays, the distribution of lights, joint actions with the police, information supply, presentations at schools, bikers’ breakfasts and afternoon meals, and is making educational videos. These were mentioned by Imre Csüllög, the leader of the organisation, who highlighted the fact that at one of their bike light counting actions, they found 75 percent light use among bikers in Szeged.
If needed, they provide guarded bike shelters for large events. In cooperation with the municipal government and construction companies, they also take part in the preparation of the bike infrastructure with suggestions and ideas and examine plans and completed projects through the eyes of the biker. Imre Csüllög mentioned he would be glad if they were earlier involved in the preparation of such projects and that their proposals include the improvement of bike storage places in condominiums, the better integration of community transport and cycling and the introduction of community bike services in Hungary.
City Certificates for the Best
One of their partners is the municipal government of Szeged. According to the presentation of Vice Mayor for City Development Sándor Nagy, Szeged – which he thinks is the most biking city among those with a population over 100 thousand – is open to promoting sustainable means of transport, which the municipal government is trying to support, for example in the form of funding the installation of ticket vending machines and bike stands at company sites.
The vice mayor reminded that the infrastructure needed for these goals had continuously been developed for 20 years, and awareness raising and cooperation with employers were also part of their work – the latter in the framework of the SASMob campaign.
He also enumerated a number of projects, including the installation of bike stands in major traffic nodes, the establishment of a 570-m2 driving park for children, a photo contest on sustainable transport, the organisation of bikers’ breakfasts and the possibility to carry bicycles on some trams in Szeged.
Among ongoing projects, he mentioned the reconstruction of Szeged’s always busy Stefánia, Oskola Street and the bridgehead of the City Centre Bridge (for a design plan, click here), cycle track development projects between Szeged-Sándorfalva and Szeged-Tarján-Baktó and the bike bridge over the Algyő Canal. He also stated that the new projects are generating new traffic:
Between Deszk and Szeged, the increase of bike use in suburban transport can be statistically identified.