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CIVITAS supports bike-share feasibility study in Szentendre (Hungary)

Author: Lewis Macdonald
Posted on: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 11:14

A study has begun in the Hungarian city of Szentendre examining the possibility of introducing a bike-share system. The study is co-funded by the CIVITAS Activity Fund.

A study has begun in the Hungarian city of Szentendre examining the possibility of introducing a bike-share system. About half of the city’s working population commutes to Budapest by train, bus or private car, and there is no sustainable form of short-distance public transport on offer in the city. The study is co-funded by the CIVITAS Activity Fund.

The employees at the Regional Environmental Center (REC), which is headquartered in Szentendre, began to research ways to reduce the environmental impact of their commutes in late 2014. Around half of REC’s employees commute back and forth to Budapest every day. Commuting by bicycle would be a popular option, but the distance between the two cities and rules against bringing bicycles on the train discourage this. As a result, many employees commute by private car.

REC therefore applied to the CIVITAS Activity Fund with the idea of studying the feasibility of a bike-sharing scheme in the city. The application was successful, with co-funding of €7.500 granted to the project. The Activity Fund is administrated by the CIVITAS CAPITAL project.

REC argues that a bike-share scheme would be an effective and inexpensive means to address Szentendre’s mobility needs, particularly if it was integrated with the suburban trains and existing Bubi bike-share system in Budapest. An ideal scenario would be using shared bicycles for the first and last stages of a journey, connected by train. Moreover, a bike-share scheme would boost local tourism, allowing visitors to Szentendre to explore the city and the surrounding countryside in a fun and environmentally-friendly way.

The study was kicked off with a meeting at Szentendre’s town hall on 12 February, attended by municipal experts, REC employees and the technical manager of the Bubi bike-share system. The next step is to hold a community meeting to assess and increase local interest in the idea. The study will also research the market potential, possible funding sources, and an operational model, eventually producing a report with recommendations and a business plan. A page about the project will be included on Szentendre’s municipal website and local residents and cyclists will be closely involved as the study progresses.

The study’s timing is fortuitous. With the election of a new mayor last autumn, Szentendre is working on several other measures to make the city more cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly. This summer, new bike racks will be installed on the town’s main square and along the promenade on the Danube embankment. The promenade will also be closed to car traffic during the summer season for the first time.

For more information about the CIVITAS Activity Fund, visit the fund’s page on civitas.eu. For more information about the study, contact GSpencer@rec.org.

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