Had another pleasant Critical Mass ride Saturday afternoon. Despite some scary looking skies and a couple lightning strikes up in the Buda Hills, we had only a few minutes of rain, and by the time we got to the ride's end in City Park, the sun was blazing.
The Hungarian state wire service MTI put participation at 20,000-30,000, which is par for the course for the last three years. The MTI report stated further that no accidents or other disruptions took place.
On this occasion, I was joined by Kristin and our almost year-old daughter Sequoia (Her older brother was indisposed with a birthday party -- I suppose the same will happen with Sequoia when she's old enough to decide these things for herself). Most of the ride, you could barely see her under her helmet, which despite having been the smallest at the store, is several sizes too big. Whenever she goes out with us she starts sucking her thumb and disappears like a Mexican peasant under a sombrero.
The ride route passed by a couple street-work projects on the Pest side. The first was a new bike path that's part of an attractive, EU-subsidised renovation of Marcius 15 ter on the Danube bank. Typical of Budapest, the path doesn't appear to link up to anything on either end. That's because, at least for the last seven years or so, cycling infrastructure is never built for its own sake, but only as an add-on of another project.
The other road works was the rapidly progressing renovation of the kiskörút between Astoria and Deák tér. When it's finished, it's supposed to include bike lanes on both sides of the street. The work hasn't advanced enough to show how this will look but it's getting close.
The ride concluded at City Park, but this year, instead of being on the flat field behind the Petöfi csarnok concert hall, we were across the street on a little hill called Királydomb. At 25-30 metres, it's not much of a hill, but it afforded a good view of scene.
One thing I could NOT SEE was a beer vendor. There were plenty of stands selling those fluffy, soft pretzels that seem to be a Hungarian specialty. But no one had beer. Last spring, all the vendors had cold beers and there were also a bunch of guys roaming through the crowd with insulated backpacks full of beer.
I suspect that the heavily advertised police crackdown on cyclist mischief had something to do with it. Actually, I noticed that many participants had tins of beer in their hands (see above, behind Kristin and Sequoia) but it may have been because they were better planners than me and brought their own. Note to self: Plan better for next Critical Mass.
If there is a next Critical Mass. This spring's event was billed "the first last Critical Mass." It's hard to know what that means, if anything. But I'm very curious what will happen in September, when the year's second Critical Mass is traditionally scheduled.
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