On 22 and 23 March 2017, BKK hosted the meeting of the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) which was brought to life by the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Existing since 2014 and working on the Europe-wide popularisation of cycling, the project's goal is to ensure sustainable transport for everyone through green and healthy mobility, to contribute to the creation of an efficient, competitive and green economy through the examination and improvement of the relationship between health and the environment as well as to ensure the protection of the environment while providing healthy living conditions. At the Budapest event new, barrier-free and innovative solutions were introduced.
Hungary is represented in the THE PEP programme by the Ministry of National Development’s Department of Coordination for Cycling. Government Commissioner for Cycling and Active Recreation Mr Máriusz Révész opened the two-day event held at BKK headquarters, and presented the key measures and plans for the development of cycling in Hungary. He reported about the institutional changes, about the key touristic and transport routes development programme, about the establishment of a national public bike-sharing scheme, and about the preparatory work for the creation of a new EuroVelo route.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of the WHO, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the UNECE, the Hungarian Ministry of National Development and BKK along with Dutch, French, Italian, Austrian, Slovak, Czech, Serbian, Irish and Luxembourgian national cycling coordinators of THE PEP project.
In his presentation, Dr Kálmán Dabóczi, the CEO of BKK introduced the recent cycling developments in the Hungarian capital: new bicycle-friendly routes and areas have been established. In 2014 the MOL Bubi public bike-sharing scheme was launched on a service area of 20 square kilometres. The system makes short-distance urban trips and trips in combination with other public transport means faster and greener with 1,286 bicycles and 112 docking stations for those customers who do not own a bike or do not have the option to use their own. Budapest Municipality and BKK are continuously improving the system, therefore new docking stations and bicycles will be added this year. The CEO highlighted the Balázs Mór Plan's objectives and programme points related to urban cycling in his speech: the complex approach to road renovations required for reaching the goal of 10% share of cycling in transport by 2030, the establishment of a connected main cycling network and bicycle-friendly secondary road network, the improvement of the penetrability by bicycle, and the provision of the conditions for modal switch between means of urban transport.
As it was pointed out at the event, the main purpose of THE PEP project is to gather and discuss relevant cycling related information from the different countries in order to devise a European Cycling Plan based on the experience and recommendations: the European framework plan comprising 10 focus areas supports the creation of national development plans to be completed by June 2017, and also advises organisations and professionals on the promotion and development of cycling. In 2016, the ECF was commissioned by European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc to compile the draft plan for an EU Cycling Strategy and as the strategy shows a significant overlap with THE PEP plan still under development, this topic was also discussed at the meetings.The two-day event ended with a sightseeing tour by bike. Topics that were covered at THE PEP meeting in Budapest:
National Cycling Strategy; ensuring a coordinated and coherent regulatory framework for cycling; adequate, cycling-friendly infrastructure; ensuring the necessary budget; cycling-friendly approach in infrastructure planning and construction processes; financial incentive schemes supportive of cycling, awareness-raising campaigns; improvement of health and safety; creating a monitoring and evaluation system; development of bicycle tourism; promotion of technology and innovation.