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Budapest-Balaton Cycle Path Construction Begins Among Debate

Ábrahám Vass 2020.10.29.

After years of hesitation and debates, the much-desired bicycle project linking two of Hungary’s primary tourist destinations, has finally been kick-started. However, the Budapest-Balaton cycling route is still accompanied by doubts. Biatorbágy residents, for example, do not want ‘BUBA’ to cross their town.

At the moment, the Balaton (the lake’s edge is around 100 km away from the capital) can only be reached from Budapest by bike either on a tumultous highway or with huge detours.

The project, dubbed by the government as ‘BUBA,’ is one of the cornerstones of a large, 10-year-long project announced in 2011, aimed at the development of the cycling infrastructure around the country. The Government Commissioner for the Active Hungary program recently stated that there had never been so many cycling-related developments in Hungary happening at the same time as there are now. Máriusz Révész added that Hungary invests the most in EU funds into bicycle paths.

Many of the ventures, however, are slowed due to fund allocation issues, permits, debates, and skirmishes with locals and local governments. And this has been the case with BUBA too.

As for its route, the first sections (those that are near Budapest) were the most debated ones. Finally, instead of the shortest and more practical option, a calmer and perhaps more scenic route has been agreed upon, as instead of following busy Route 7, the pathway would go through Biatorbágy (on top of the historic and iconic viaduct) and the Etyek Hills before reaching lake Velence, and continue on its Northern shore through to Székesfehérvár.

Between starting point Kamaraerdő (on the border of the 11th and 22nd districts), and end point Balatonakarattya, the distance totals 108 km. The majority of this pathway would not need new asphalt strip buildings; instead, lesser-used roads would be transformed for the purpose. Where gravel or dirt roads will be covered, usage will be shared with agricultural vehicles.

Despite that in 2017, Máriusz Révész promised the completion of the project in 2019, at this point, construction works are only underway between Törökbálint and Kamaraerdő, and outside Biatorbágy, meaning that the target date has been recently postponed to 2022.

Even this will likely be delayed even further. Just before the works were due to begin in Biatorbágy, locals, besides collecting 2,500 signatures, pushed for a referendum (and a favorable court ruling gave the green light for this). They decided to do so after realizing that the two-lane route is planned to be squeezed into the town’s main road, something that the Fidesz-led town leadership is to be blamed for, in their view, since they withheld information and refused to consult with the locals. While Mayor István Tarjáni denies this and the fear that the routing would be dangerous, Révész says both parties have reasonable points.

Despite the delays, you can sooner or later bike all the way down to the Hungarian Sea.

featured image via Csaba Jászai/MTVA