Commentary Tourism

Downtown Budapest fights Segway invasion

Despite a comprehensive ban on electric-powered, self-balancing Segways in Budapest’s central fifth district, conflicts between pedestrians and tourists using the contraptions remain a permanent fixture.

Budapest’s first and fifth districts last year instated a complete ban on Segways, electric scooters, electric skateboards, rickshaws and beer bikes. Magyar Hírlap says, however, that operators who organize Segway sightseeing tours still bring their customers to the banned areas.

The reason why the ban seems to be ineffective is twofold: the lack of enforcement and the insufficient deterring power of the fines. Fines are established by the district councils, and while individuals using banned vehicles face a fine of up to HUF 200,000 forints (EUR 614) and operators as much as HUF two million (EUR 6,140) in the fifth district, in the first district these are only between HUF 5,000 and 150,000.

Fifth district officials told Magyar Hírlap that since the ban came into force they have had 60 cases in which a fine was dispensed, but the first district has a more lenient policy – in most cases they let offenders get away with just a warning.

Segway operators – while not questioning the intent of the municipalities – say that a comprehensive regulation of all electrically powered personal transport appliances is needed, one that also takes into account that these vehicles are in fact environmentally friendly and help lessen congestion.

Title image: Tourists on Segways in downtown Budapest (Magyar Hírlap/Márton Ficsor)

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