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August 17, 2005

Cycling in Hungary: The Story of Gergely Biro

The other day I found myself contacted, through MSN Messenger, by a young man in Hungary who has begun his own Blog with a focus on Cycling in his homeland of Hungary.

I have since chatted with him, and checked out his blog.

Unless you understand Hungarian you won't understand a word he writes ( though he's willing to post in English if enough interest manifests itself ), but I still recommend a visit for the photos that he spices the place up with on occasion.

Birogeri's BikeBlog

I decided to ask him to write about bicycling in Hungary for The Cycling Dude.

I was not disappointed by his effort.

It is an enlightening look at life in another country, and what cycling is like in a nation that, not long ago, was once under the thumb of communism.

He apologized for his English and told me I could edit his piece for clarity, but I told him that his English was quite good ( Reminded me of my Father's ability in this regard ), and so I present to you the experience of bicycling in Hungary as seen through the words of a young Hungarian High School Senior...

Biking in Hungary by Gergely Biro:

First of all, let me introduce myself:

I am Gergely Biro, from Hungary, Somogy county.

I'm 18 years old.

I ride the bike since 1990, when I was 3 years old, and rode a pink four wheeled bunny bike.

And then, when I grew up, I changed my bike to a mountain bike (MTB). So now I ride with it, both offroad, and on the road.

When you come here in Hungary, you will most likely attend Budapest, the capital. But if you visit the countryside, and maybe you try to ride a bit, then you can expect some problems.

The first thing you confront: the quality of the roads.

Most of the countryside roads were built in the communist era, or they are even older. So, you will meet pot-holes everywhere, maybe they are 2 feet wide.

Thereby it is a bit dangerous to ride with a road bike. In fact, you have to use an MTB on the roads too. Fortunately, in the few last years, they built a lot of  good quality, easy-to-ride roads, but they are even infrequent.

Then there are the traffic rules, and the drivers.

The law prescribes: You can ride maximum with 28 mph (40 km/h).

Just to compare: the bikers of the Tour de France, they ride about with 38 mph (60 km/h). It is not a problem as long as you are using an MTB. But if you try to go on with a road bike…

And to top it all the drivers are crazy. It is not extraordinary, that they drive two (!) times faster than they are allowed to. If you want to survive, you need to give them the priority in everything, everywhere. Possibly you must even go down off the road.

Cycle paths are rare.

And they are not connected, they are quite scattered. Maybe the longest and the most beautiful is around the Lake Balaton, but sadly it isn’t a real cycle path too. The path is detached from the road with a yellow stripe, and therefore it is chapped.

If you have a BMX bike, you can forsake it.

BMX’s in Hungary cannot participate in the traffic. Not even on the sidewalks, because it is not allowed to ride there, with any type of bikes, because a bicycle counts as a vehicular conveyance.

But this all counterbalanced by the solidarity and the cooperation of the bikers. Anywhere you go, you will be always helped by the other bikers.

There are many local and national communities. Nowadays most of them appeared on the web too.

So, you can come here anytime you want, the Hungarians are famous for their hospitality!

August 17, 2005 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink

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Comments

Just look at this chart:
http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/

And look where is Hungary in the list. It is almost 5 USD. And the avarage wage is around 500 USD/month.
How much money do you earn in the USofA? And what the gas costs? As As I see, it is around 2.6 USD.

Think about this.

Posted by: birogeri | Aug 18, 2005 2:51:27 PM

Cool!

What does the T-shirt say?
HA ELÜTSZ SZÁJBARÚGLAK
I tried an on-line translator and all it could do was:
IF HIT SZÁJBARÚGLAK

Gas prices -- I believe ours include far less tax than the rest of the world.
(about 16% here, more like 75% in Europe)
Sadly, we invest almost NOTHING in public transportation, and it shows -- we have almost no trains or trams, few subways and infrequent bus service.

> László Varró said that during the month of August, the retail price of petrol in
> Hungary will stabilise at an average of HUF 275 (EUR 1.13) per litre.

That would be about half what gas costs here?!?

I'm sorry to hear that motorists are poorly behaved in Hungary.
I did some cycling in Bulgaria last summer -- it was great!

Posted by: Adrian Hands | Aug 19, 2005 6:27:31 PM

Hi Adrian!

HA ELÜTSZ SZÁJBARÚGRAK means: If you run down (with a car) me, I'll kick you on your mouth.
I send this T-shirt caption idea to Tomcat (who makes these) when I had driven crazy by the drivers. I will order one, but I think I never dare to wear it. I certainly achieve the reverse of what I wanted to achieve.

Your gas prices are the half of ours. (not ours is the half of yours :)
As I can read it here (http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/19/news/economy/gas_prices/index.htm)
Yours are between 2.4 and 2.8 USD per gallon. 1 US gallon = 3.8 litre. This means you pay around 0.7 USD per litre. And that is around 140 HUF.
So (with a little maths) you can see that (your) 140 HUF is the half of (our) 275 HUF - and they say, it will be even costly in the next months.

Just keep on riding (even at Bulgaria :) Dont forget to visit us too :)

Posted by: birogeri | Aug 20, 2005 5:24:29 PM

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