Pre-decision and Detailed Feasibility Study and Action Plan for the Budapest–Lake Balaton Bicycle Path

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Technical data

Building trades

road design
traffic engineering
geotechnics

Principal

Közlekedésfejlesztési Koordinációs Központ

Project value

4,800.00

Design value

67.35 millió Ft

Years of completion

2013 to 2014

Years of construction

2017

‘Under a contractor agreement, preparation of the development of bicycle paths for commuting purposes, which can be fit into a network, in the case of the Budapest–Balaton bicycle route; preparation of a design study, a feasibility study, environmental assessments and an Action Plan under Project No. KÖZOP-5.5.0-09-11-2012-0004’
Budapest and Lake Balaton are the two largest tourist destinations in Hungary. The number of cyclists keeps increasing at both locations; they ride their bikes mainly for tourism purposes around Lake Balaton, while mostly for commuting (to work and school) purposes in the capital. The establishment of a bicycle connection between the two areas seems to be obvious primarily from a tourism point of view, but if a main network can be created in the region, which also connects commuting destinations, local residents will also use it regularly in addition to tourists. Putting it more simply, we aimed at establishing a ‘main bicycle track’ in the region, eliminating unnecessary detours, making most workplaces, schools, shops and other possible destinations accessible.
When travelling from Budapest to Lake Balaton by car or rail, we select the shortest route, and rarely make a detour for the sake of the beauty of the itinerary covered. If we would also like to create a stand-alone tourist attraction for cyclists besides connecting the two end points, it is not so simple to select a route. The golden mean must be found between the attractiveness and length of the route and the difference in elevations to overcome.
The whole section was divided into two parts, then three alternatives were prepared for each, connecting Budapest and Székesfehérvár as well as Székesfehérvár and Lake Balaton. The routes include the shortest one, parallel to Trunk Road No. 7, but detours were made to as far as Alcsútdoboz. They ran along both sides of Lake Velence, and reached Lake Balaton either on its north or south shore.
Of the alternatives presented in the Pre-decision Study, the winning route was designated in an order letter issued by the Ministry for National Development, which was processed through the preparation of a Feasibility Study and Action Plan, showing the recommended facility types, estimated construction costs and land use. In accordance with the contents of the methodological guidelines devised jointly with our Principal and other professional organisations, expected social benefits were shown, which amounted to several times the costs of intervention.
It was a basic principle for the design of routes that in outer area sections, a cycle track separated from high-speed motor vehicle traffic or a paved agriculture road should be constructed following the Austrian model. However, reaching narrower inner areas, instead of pavements reserved for pedestrians, infrastructure with the same direction as motor vehicle traffic (on the right side of the road relative to the direction of traffic) was designed with the establishment of bicycle lanes on public roads or cycling tracks in order to eliminate unnecessary conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, unclear right-of-way conditions and a series of accident-prone junctions. We did all this in reference to a number of traffic safety research, which demonstrates that bicycle paths established on pavements often give a false feeling of safety to cyclists, who, emerging from behind shrubs, trees and poles at a junction, collide with unexpecting cars making a turn.
By contrast, motorists cannot ignore cyclists riding on an appropriately established bicycle path, travelling on the right side of the road in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, clearly holding the right-of-way over motor vehicles. In a few municipalities, it was also considered to lay the route to low-traffic side streets, but besides the fact that due to unnecessary detours, presumably only some of the cyclists would use them, it may also be more dangerous than riding on the main road because of streets with priority to the right. It could be observed along the route that local cyclists mostly use main roads even today, since most destinations are located along them, and we believe that we could not choose any other alternative.