It looks like there will be a south-side bikeway on Margit híd, afterall. Last week at a Budapest General Assembly meeting, members voted to go forward with the original plans, as agreed last year with cycling activists. The path will make it possible for Buda-to-Pest bike traffic to stay on their own side of the street while crossing the span.
The vote reverses City Hall's earlier decision, made this summer just weeks before work started on the ongoing bridge renovation, to create just a single, two-direction bikeway on the north (Margit Island) side of the bridge. At the time, city officials said they had to remove the path because of difficulty getting necessary permits on the historically protected bridge.
Cyclists complained that forcing Pest-bound cyclists to ride on the island-side path would mean they would have to go through eight traffic lights, get off their bikes twice, and ride approximately twice distance as they would with their own, right-side accomodation. Some 500 cyclists demonstrated on the bridge on August 18 to drive the point home.
Another argument, raised by bike blogger András Földes and others, was that the plans that the city submitted with its application for EUR 6 million in EU subsidies had included bikeways on both sides of the bridge. City Hall's spokeswoman argued the bike path removal was a technical detail that the city could fudge without violating the aid contract. However, the Hungarian Development Agency, NFÜ, never conceded this point.
Now that the south-side path will be built, the city will have to apply for a city-level permit. City Assemblyman Imre Lakos claims this bureaucratic matter will not hold up progress on the bridge project.
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