In Budapest, randomly selected citizens have submitted proposals to the city council on how to improve air quality in the Hungarian capital. For four days in September, the participants of a citizens' assembly on the topic had worked on their recommendations. The proposals were presented to the public on 10 November 2022 under the title "Breathe easy, Budapest!".
The recommendations include proposals to improve public transport in Budapest, to green and improve the condition of the city's public spaces, and to harmonise and improve the parking system. In addition, the participants have suggested improving the infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians and implementing traffic calming measures in certain areas.
More green spaces, less parking
The assembly participants advocate more green spaces even at the expense of parking spaces. Every third parking space in public areas should be planted with trees. They also recommend closing the Chain Bridge and Freedom Bridge to car traffic. The banks between the two bridges should be made accessible to the public. In addition, the quays are to be landscaped and picnic and catering areas, playgrounds and cycle paths are to be created there. Furthermore, Rákóczi Street is to be transformed into a green boulevard. The citizens' assembly has submitted detailed redesign proposals for this.
By 2030, a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour is to apply on 70 per cent of Budapest's streets. Parking fees are also to be increased, with calls for the creation of a uniform and transparent charging system.
"Healthy city, healthy people"
Furthermore, bus lanes, redesign of bus stops, penalties for speeding, traffic education for children and an update of the road traffic regulations for adults are part of the list of recommendations. The city is asked to abolish company car rebates and to stop subsidising cars with polluting engines. The further development of the app "BudapestGO" should make all mobility information accessible in one application. Under the motto "Healthy city, healthy people", the city should develop a campaign for environmentally friendly mobility.
An appeal is made to the city of Budapest and the 75 municipalities surrounding it to jointly establish a regional association to develop a common transport policy. "Why is there no body representing the capital and the surrounding municipalities? Why don't we have a body that brings together experts from the metropolises and conurbations to tackle this problem together?" the assembly participants ask in their citizens' report.
50 assembly participants
The proposals of the citizens' assemblies were developed over two weekends with the support of experts in moderated discussions and voting.
The assembly consisted of 50 people who, taking into account gender, age, education, place of residence and even mobility behaviour, were put together to form a group that represented a reflection of Budapest's population. Among the participants were people who use public transport, cars, bicycles or walk, so the citizens' assembly included all groups of transport users.
Third citizens' assembly in Budapest
The citizens' suggestions will be incorporated into the urban transport development plans to be prepared in the coming months. Afterwards, the city council will decide on their implementation.
The citizens' assembly on transport and public space was already the third assembly of this kind in Budapest. In 2020, the city had already convened a citizens' assembly on climate change. In 2021, a citizens' assembly on Budapest's role in the European Union was held.