Cycling in the Hungarian winter-time

It’s too cold! It’s raining! It’s slippery out there! These are the main excuses for a citizen why not to ride their bicycles from late November until March.

Now let me show you another reason that can easily be a demotivating factor when it comes to winter cycling. Though, the modal split of cycling has been increased by 50% annually in Budapest (even in winter months), but cleaning the snow from the cycle tracks (and other types on bike facilities) is just not that important for the city administration and/or the folks who are effectively cleaning the streets.

In 2012 the daily average of cycling traffic was over a thousand on working days. Not too much – you could say – compared to public transport (main tram routes run among the cycle lane) or individual car traffic. But still, much more than 5 years ago when the early bird cyclists of Budapest have arisen, mainly from different sub-cultures of the youth.

I personally have a strange déjá vu these wet and cold days that cycling is perceived as the extremely minority of the everyday traffic. Today around 500 cyclists are counted on the Inner Ring road and it used to be like this in all seasons until a sensable change in the mindset of city and traffic planners, who had put bike lanes, bike-boxes (ASLs) on the plans and let contra-flow cycling in downtown streets. Anyway, the average traffic in the same section was over 2.200 cyclist/day/direction in  September…

Why it’s only 25% who sit on the saddle when the temperature gets below 5°C?

I don’t know the perfect answer, for sure. But I show you some photos I’ve taken on my trips in Budapest and some other towns.



Do you have some other good/bad examples? Please, let me know in a comment.


One day in Budapest drawn by cyclists’ GPS track records.


UrbanCyclr ( app allows bikers to track their biking routes in the city. The individual routes are added to an aggregated map of the bikers’ community. 100.000 kilometers of biking routes have been collected from individual bikers since the launch of the app in 2011.

SubMap ( is a unique tool to visualize geographic and time-based data on distorted maps. It has a huge potential in coping with data from a physically distributed network of independent sensors.

The Dutch Cycling Embassy in Budapest #3

Today you can meet Marc von Woudenberg, also known as Mr. Amsterdamized. The man who has once seen the burning man :) Marc runs the consultancy Amsterdamize.

Here comes our conversation when we met in Budapest, September 2012.

“I am here in Budapest because I was invited by the Embassy [the Dutch] and the Hungarian Cyclists’ Club to have a talk about the history of cycling the Netherlands and how it relates to Budapest and Hungary and how we can actually help. And it has been really interesting being here. I’ve been here before but now really in this capacity it’s very interesting.”

 You mentioned marketing and communication yesterday. What do you think? Which departments at a municipality or local government need to cooperate or necessarily be involved…?

“Be involved? Well. Coming from the Netherlands and knowing history and knowing how it works now… You cannot do any marketing communication or promotion if it is not really there (all the stuff that’s needed). There are different things that are needed to make a city bicycle friendly, so in the Netherlands now after 30 years of developing most of it, it’s a combination of traffic and city planning. That’s what it is in the Netherlands. When it comes to physical changes it’s about redesigning streets. Rethinking how people move about in a city. Who could go into a city? Like big trucks or heavy traffic in general, there you need to divert traffic or redesign certain areas in the city. So where I come from there is the professional concerning traffic planning and urban planning joined together basically. It’s interactive! And based on that when actually it’s implemented it’s being promoted. Because we cannot promote cycling saying it’s a lovely thing to do when there’s no way that people can actually do it. Because that would be lying. So it’s basically a very practical cooperation between planning and promotion. So It’s all about everyday life. I told you that. We were speaking about that at the forum [on the day before] that promotion needs to be based on reality. Based on everyday life based on convenience and then we use a little humor we use, you know behavioral things like what people expect but what you actually tell them, there are different ways but there is never one thing! You can never have a silver bullet trying to change the city into a bike friendly city. There are different measures are needed. Co operations are needed. Partners are really needed. And everybody needs to be involved.”

Additionally, I need to mention Marc’s video what he did for the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

Cycling For Everyone from Dutch Cycling Embassy on Vimeo.

The Dutch Cycling Embassy in Budapest #2

As promised before, more videos about urban cycling will be published, starring with some Dutch experts. Today I’d like to share our conversation with Marjolein de Lange, who works  for the Cyclists’ Union Amsterdam. She also gave lectures for the city planners in Budapest and the day after we all went out for cycling in the city…

Marjolein de Lange (Dutch Cycling) from Zsolt Kilián on Vimeo.

Stay tuned!