Dr. Zsuzsa Frisnyák - Development of Bicycle Culture in Hungary
Dr. Zsuzsa Frisnyák - Developement of Bicycle Culture in Hungary
From: DR. FRISNYÁK ZSUZSA. A KERÉKPÁROZÁS KULTÚRÁJÁNAK KIALAKULÁSA:
Article translated for Waffenradforums.net by BikeInfantry, 2018.08.13.
///note that the original text used is pre-1990s and could be updated by now///
Bicycles became commonly known tools of transportation in Hungary during the last two decades of the 19. century. People learned to make use of the „steel steed” in this period. Through the process of new ideas surfacing, the public oppinion on bicycles was changing as well, organizations regarding the topic were forming and the culture of appreciating bicycles as art objects was on it's way. These two decades we consider to be the golden age of cycling.
You need three key components for cycling: the machine, the human – it's good if you have a road too. In regards to bicycles more and more bicycle shops were forming across the country. Manufacturers reacting to the growing demand were filling up their stock and opening showrooms one after the other. In Budapest their business plan also included establishing bicycle schools next door to the already functioning stores. By 1900 we have 10 operational bicycle schools in the capitol out of which in eight you were also able to buy your own vehicle, with additional parts. A school called „Attila” even provided private lessons for ladies. Books were published educating everyday users how to maintain bicycles, first newspapers reporting on bicycle sports were founded.
Hungary's roads on the other hand were anything but optimal for practice. There were very little well executed roads. On these roads mostly consisting of gravel little stones were flying around from underneath the tires, earth based paths were bumpy, got wet, with many holes in them.
Besides Andrássy út (today: Népköztársaság útja) – which was covered with wooden planks – the other popular track among cyclists was the road to Gödöllő. Lots of complaints were filed regarding the roads of Alföld (the Great Hungarian Plain). Considered to be better quality, but more tiring were the routes of Erdély (Transylvania) and Felvidék (Hungarian Highlands).
Despite the fact that besides sports people only the aristocrat youth were the first to mount bicycles, the practice of cycling never became a priviledged sport of aristocracy in Hungary. Opposite to horse riding – to which cycling was compared many times – the purchase of bicycles over the years became also a possibility for a wider range of people. Cycling gained also popularity because of those using their bicycles as tools for work. The delivery man, the courier, the mailman, the postman. Professions of men using bicycles at the time turns out to be independent manufacturers and unmarried clerks. Cycling became the sport of civic society.
In the creation of bicycle culture the biggest role was played by bicycle associations. These forming cultural hubs were the backbone of defending cyclists against mis-judgement, which was acted out all too quikly. Also to educate people on how to use bicycles in the first place.