Last night I attended the Critical Mass in Budapest for the first time. Critical Mass is a world-wide event that usually takes place once a month. Read more about it here. In Budapest, however, the Critical Mass only happens twice a year but they have an amazing number of participants. In spring of 2008 there were about 80.000 citizens cycling on Budapest's streets.
This time the event was slightly different, more "radical" meaning without police escort. According to different sources about 10.000 to 20.000 cyclists hit the road. It was amazing to see so many different people. For example, there was a choir in yellow T-shirts. I saw bike messengers as well as sporty riders and everyday cyclists. Among all of them there was us, the participants of the Mobility Week Workshop.
In the beginning of the evening the city hall was surrounded. Later on the mass started to move slowly. Quite slowly in fact. Traffic rules were obeyed. In the beginning we cycled in a big bulk, but later that split up and small subgroups were cycling through the town. I quite enjoyed that. One could see cyclists everywhere, but didn't have the feeling of being in some boring organized crowd.
In the end, however, everybody again gathered at Deák tér for the obligatory bike lift. I'm quite proud of myself that I could lift my heavy steal-framed bike including accessories :-).
For more insight you should read through Greg's impressions (as he is a local) and the website of Critical Mass Hungary.
The day before I met Mikael from Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copenhagenize.com on a Cycling Lifestyles Workshop organized by the Hungarian Cycle Chic (thanks again to Ádám from the Hungarian Cyclists' Club for the translations to English). So there might be another outsider's view of the Critical Mass on his blogs too.
To finish all this and come back to the title of the post, I wish that Budapest and Hungary in general will see so many people cycling every day. Currently I have the impression that many subcultures exist, but not yet a culture of cycling that addresses everyone. All the best to achieve that!
See Mikael's video of the Critical Mass in Budapest: Budapest Bike Ride with 20,000 Friends