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10,000 cyclists demonstrate for bike-friendly Budapest

Some 10,000 cyclists participated in the "I bike Budapest" event on Sunday, despite the rain, promoting their 12+1 points to make the city more bike-friendly in the next five years, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

The event attracted 10,000 people, according to police estimates

Before the demonstration, all this yearʼs major candidates for mayor of Budapest - incumbent István Tarlós, Gergely Karácsony, and Róbert Puzsér - gave positive answers regarding meeting the cyclistsʼ demands. However, the organizers noted that the level of support announced by candidates differed. Even so, there has never been such overarching, cross-party support from candidates prior to a mayoral election, the press release noted.

The route of the demonstration started on Margaret Island, passing four bridges, the Óbuda district, along riverside roads and the tunnel under Buda Castle, before arriving at the Városliget (City Park) via the Chain Bridge and Andrássy út. Participants lifted their bikes to the sky after arriving at Városliget.

The Hungarian Cyclistsʼ Club noted that it was unprecedented for all mayoral candidates to make pledges regarding a request by civilians, irrespective of their political alignment, adding that developing the cycling infrastructure is in the public interest, above party politics.

The event was opened by René van Hell, ambassador of the Netherlands to Hungary, who expressed joy at seeing a large amount of people enjoying the freedom offered by cycling. The Netherlands has been a supporter of the initiative for 11 years.

"We have opened the otherwise unfriendly roads of the city for its future users, for those children, students, elderly, women, and commuters, whose number would be multiplied by the realization of our 12+1 points," said Áron Halász, deputy president of the Cyclistsʼ Club, and the chief organizer of the event. "Meanwhile, those who are already riding their bikes would be welcomed by more convenient roads. Even those who never ride a bike would benefit, as if a place is good for cycling, itʼs good for living as well."

The 12+1 points for development until 2024 include linking the downtown area with the suburbs, modernizing the cycle route to Hűvösvölgy, bicycle paths on both sides of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, the renovation of Petőfi Bridge with the inclusion of cycle paths, increased maintenance, and making the Nagykörút (the central grand boulevard) and Rákóczi út safer for cyclists.

The complete list of points and the candidatesʼ responses (in Hungarian) are available at the clubʼs website.