• Cycling is politics in Budapest

    The mayor of Budapest: saddling up becomes a political act. Photo: Gergely Karácsony/Facebook

    “There is a car chase in Budapest. The administration considers those who dare to get into cars as criminals.”

    – Gergely Gulyás, Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff

    ‘Car chase’ could easily be the title of a movie in Hungary, with Gergely Karácsony, Budapest’s liberal mayor, as the lead.

    To tell the truth, the Hungarian capital has never been friendly to cyclists. Cars are status symbols here, and the city has always favoured motorists. So, when Karácsony was elected in 2019, his actions to transform the city faced controversy.

    But the fiercest attacks did not come from the inhabitants, but from the right-wing populist government, in an attempt to woo voters and make the opposition mayor’s life difficult. When Karácsony cycled to work, politicians attacked him for not driving. When he opened a bike lane or wanted to reform parking, he was called an “enemy of cars” – along with every cyclist in the city.

    Just like that, Budapest has become an example of how politics can make enemies of cyclists – while the inhabitants suffer the consequences.

    This article is part of the "Take our bikes back!" edition
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