Ten people turned out, which I think was quite good considering this was our first meeting and it took place Friday afternoon, when most people just want to drink beer. But hey you people who didn't come -- we HAD alcohol! This is what I love about cyclists. They're a healthy bunch, and usually environmentally conscious and all those virtuous things -- but hardly ever abstemious when it comes to drink.
Not to give the impression we were a bunch of no-account boozers. The group included people with a variety of backgrounds that should help with our mission. They included:
- a representative of the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation (Ökotars) who's working on a national Greenway system
- a co-founder of Hungary's biggest entertainment listings magazine PestiEst
- a rider from Hajtas Pajtas, the bike courier service at the vanguard of Budapest's cycling movement
- the president of the Szentendre-based Paradicsom Klub (Tomato Club), an NGO that offers bike rides and other recreational programmes for the blind and poor-sighted
The group discussed a working proposal written by local literature professor Balázs Devescovi, which highlights the most basic needs for cycling in Szentendre. Everyone agreed with these ideas, particularly the main point about the main road through town, Route 11. It turned out there were three of us at the meeting who have been pulled over by police on Route 11 for not riding on the rim-bending sidewalk that's designated as a compulsory cycling track.
One possible solution would be to mark out cycling lanes for both directions of traffic on Route 11 inside the city boundaries. If the road is too narrow for proper bike lanes and all FOUR existing car lanes, then the lanes could be designated "sharrows," which cars could also use when they aren't occupied by cyclists. Some may consider this dangerous, however that's only because existing traffic moves so swiftly. During the meeting, I made the point that although this road is part of a highway, it is inside the city limits and motorists have got to slow down. Cycling lanes could actually be part of the solution to this problem, along, of course, with better enforcement of existing speed limits.
When the Szentendre group works out a more detailed proposal, we'll submit it to City Hall. As part of this effort, one of our group will take photos of all the cycling trouble spots in town, and then input them into a Google map showing exactly where they are. If we get really ambitious, we might write up a detailed "cycling concept," a document that would serve as a guide and impetus for cycling development in Szentendre.
The cycling club has experience in getting municipal cycling movements off the ground, having put together cycling concepts for Budapest and Érd and having started work on one for Gyôr.