Why a three billion cycling budget in Austria?

The Austrian climate strategy includes a doubling of cycle traffic share. For environmental minister Köstinger (BMNT) mobility is one of the priorities in aiming to cut seven million tons of CO2 by 2030. A recommended 30-euro per capita cycling budget would mean in the decade between 2020 and 2030 a total of €3bn is available for necessary improvements. Cycle Competence Austria is the first to analyse how this money should be invested wisely. Here are the results.

Federal Minister Elisabeth Köstinger outlined the scope of the climate targets for the traffic sector in an interview: “This will not work by introducing single measures but only by an overhaul of the mobility system.” Such progress is not possible without the necessary quality and determination in the planning process and implementation. It also needs sufficient public means for targeted investments.

Cycling budget as part of the climate strategy 2030?

As yet, no significant budget increase for cycling traffic on the federal, provincial or municipal level have been announced. A look at international examples shows noticeable improvements in cycle traffic over the medium-term and a shift in the modal split towards emission-free mobility on bicycles requires a minimum annual budget of 30 euros per inhabitant. In a ten-year projection assuming continued population growth this amounts to a rounded annual budget of 300 million euros for Austria on all administrative levels – federal, provincial and municipal. In total, that makes three billion euros between 2020 and 2030.

The current situation for comparison: In targeted budget resources, the federal estimate for 2018 allows €626.9m for environment, energy and climate this year. For 2019, €623.3m have been budgeted. The amount the provinces spend for cycling traffic range from €1 to €7 per inhabitant.

Three billion euros cycling budget – what for?

Cycle Competence has analysed calculations to see what this – only at the first glance – immense sum can and should sensibly be used for to cover all aspects of cycle traffic promotion and traffic safety. We are presenting these calculations in details and are backing them with sources. Overall, they show a minimum annual budget of €300m can bring fundamental improvements but by no means incite exaggerated expectations.

The amounts and the proposals for implementations are in no way fixed. We are providing food for thought to show what this – still fictitious – total amount could be used for. We are looking forward to additional considerations and proposals on any of the nine fields for which we propose measures.

1) INFRASTRUCTURE: €185.5m / 61.8% of the total sum

The annual expansion of separated cycle paths by 200km comes to €100m at an average cost per kilometre of €500,000 (1). The additional construction of 50km of cycle highways at €1m per km (2) means an investment of €50m. In comparison: One kilometre of highway for cars costs up to €137m (4). Significantly lower costs are needed for cycle roads and traffic calming: On average €150,000 per km. (3).

At 70km per year, this amounts to €10.5m. Large sums are needed for building bridges and underpasses (5). For example, 10 constructions at an estimated average price of €2m – albeit at very different lengths – would cost €20m. It is very important to increase traffic safety for cyclists on intersections. To achieve this, measures costing €100,000 per intersection (6) would mean costs of €5m for construction and light signals at 50 spots. As expected this means the vast majority of the annual cycling budget would benefit the construction industry: €185.5m

The new cycling bridge over the Dornbirner Ach in Vorarlberg: The project cost around €1.5m, 70% of that was taken on by the Cycle Competence member the province of Vorarlberg.

The Judith-Deutsch-Steg in Vienna for cyclists and pedestrians cost €4.7m.

2) BICYCLE PARKING: €6.4m / 2.1%

Compared to the construction costs the share for bicycle parking seems small. Nevertheless this key element for promoting cycling is well funded at €6m, especially because very often costs are split with transport companies such as the ÖBB. For example, this budget allows to put up bicycle racks at €170 per parking space (7) as well as 2,000 roofed spaces or bicycle boxes at €1,000 (7). As part of a school focus, 2,4000 parking spaces with day-time bicycle racks could be built – around €400,000 in total. Additionally, at train stations and public transport hubs 1,500 roofed or boxed-in parking spaces could be installed at €1,500 each (8) – if transport companies take on 50% of the costs.

Bicycle parking with shed roof at the train station in Salzburg with double decker parking and bicycle boxes.


An essential factor for successfully restructuring the mobility system to become more bicycle-friendly are the people with expert knowledge, enthusiasm and time to make local implementation possible. Berlin (increase in the annual cycling budget to €50m) and Salzburg (one additional permanent post) have realised this. Based on this we included 400 cycling advocates for large municipalities (250 with more than 5,000 inhabitants) at €100,000 annual HR costs (9) in the calculations. For the remaining 1,848 smaller municipalities 1,900 part-time equivalents at €20,000 were calculated.

For cycle consultation programmes held externally for municipalities, such as those already successfully offered in Upper Austria by Cycle Competence member “Klimabündnis”, 100 consultation days at an average of €1,000 (10) were budgeted. Additionally, €1m was estimated for 100 thorough traffic planning infrastructure audits at €10,000 euro average cost (10).

Graduates of the training course for municipal mobility consultants in Eisenstadt.

4) RESEARCH: €4m / 1.3%

Traffic-related research and research topics linking active mobility to the fields of traffic safety, communication, navigation, logistics and social issues have been allocated a budget of €4m in this proposal.

5) CHILDREN: €6m / 2%

Children are the future road users influencing the modal split, the exhaust balance and the noise pollution. It is clear that a lack of exercise and diminishing autonomy result in major social problems and will continue to do so even more. It is therefore high time to guide children towards autonomous, healthy cycling mobility. In this package of measures, school cycling courses at €1,000 each for 500 classes (10 and 11 years) were earmarked. These will prepare the children for the voluntary cycling test. Additionally 200 cycle training packages were included with balance bikes, bicycles, helmets and accessories for kindergartens and primary schools with costs per package at 5,000 euros each (10). For holding bicycle courses and for self-guided training away from the dangers of traffic cycle, training ranges are needed such as the “Cycling Playgrounds Vienna” (“Radspielplätze Wien“). Construction and maintenance were calculated for ten ranges at €100,000 each (10).

The bicycle starter package subsidy is an innovative proposal to give all families access to safe cycling mobility: With a 50% funding quota children of families with lower financial means could be outfitted with good bicycles and helmets. This would cost 175 per child. Rolling this idea out to 20,000 children would mean one fourth of all children in the fourth grades all over Austria (11) could benefit.

6) PUBLIC RELATIONS €8.8m / 3%

Money spent on motivational campaigns and information on traffic safety is a particularly efficient investment because of its high impact. A major campaign for all of Austria in cooperation with far-reaching media to motivate people to cycle could be fitted with €5m. Parallel-running media campaigns focussing on certain groups or addressing relevant safety topics – such as the minimum clearance when overtaking – are factored in with €3m per year. Additionally, there is a budget for 100 events in smaller municipalities at €8,000 to help improve the image of cycling.


Certain forms of bicycle use are particularly suitable to initiate a climate-preserving shift from cars to bicycles – given the right funding and subsidies. Over longer distances or with heavier cargo an electronic boost helps. The success of well-funded public purchase subsidies was proven by Cycle Competence member “Mobilitätsagentur Wien” with the cargo bike subsidy 2017. Based on this example we calculated a 30% subsidy for 500 family bikes (at €1,000 each) as well as 500 cargo bikes for individuals or families (at €1,500 each). This is enough money to include pedelec versions with electronically powered auxiliary motors.

With an impressive funding amount for e-bikes, Sweden caused something of an international stir: Annually, €35m are invested in e-bike purchase subsidies. Over the planned three-year period between 2018 and 2020, this makes €105m in total. The subsidy programme we are presenting here is comparatively small. But the campaign “e-bike instead of car” would allow funding the purchase of 3,000 e-bikes per year at a 50% subsidy quota provided that people who seek the funding are no longer using a car. Additionally, a funding measure was included based on the example of the province of Vorarlberg: Discounted tickets for public transport for people buying a folding bike.

8) TRAINING: 100.000 Euro / 0,03%

A relatively small part of the budget concept is earmarked for cycle training courses for adults – a field that has a lot of potential for expansion. These can be targeted at beginners, elderly people or inexperienced cyclists wanting to use the bike in everyday traffic but are afraid to do so without training. For safety reasons it would be important to offer training for people – mostly elderly – purchasing their first e-bike after not having cycled in a long time. For these trainings a total of 200 group courses at €500 each in instructor costs were included in the budget.


The bicycle as part of the public transport network can be used by individuals and has to be available reliably. This successful concept named “Citybike” originated in Vienna and has already reformed Paris, found its way to New York and has triggered the current Asian Free Floating App bike wave. It is important for every larger city. One station with 20 bikes for so-called Public Bike Systems which can consist of hundreds of stations costs €60,000 (12). The expansion or first-time implementation of such systems in cities like Salzburg, Linz, Graz and Vienna as well as for rural hubs with 40 new stations per year would costs around €2.4m.

In addition, we included the “Public Transport No Worries Bikes” based on the Dutch example. These are rental bikes available at train stations for people with a subscription and an access code. They can use the bikes freely and even take them home. Included in the rental fee are service and spare parts. In case of damage the bike can be exchanged for a new one. It can be returned or picked up at any participating station. At a 50% funding quota a subsidy of €200 per year would make 5,000 bikes available.


It becomes clear from this list that there is need for additional means and that a shifting of money from other areas of the budget would make sense. As described above, we want to provide well-founded food for thought for exciting debates. The first public discussion of the draft will take place at the European Cycling Summit 2018 in Salzburg. We are looking forward to seeing you there at the Cycle Competence lounge for the themed breakfast at the start of the summit: Tuesday, 25 September, 9 a.m. : PROGRAMME

Download the overview table here: Three billion – what for? A workable excel table can be downloaded HERE: XLS


The conceptual budget was drawn up in September 2018 for Cycle Competence Austria by Die Radvokaten, con.sens traffic planning and Radlobby Austria.

These are the sources for the cost estimates (in German):

  1. 3m Breit + 0,6m Schutzstreifen, MA28 2010: 280 Euro/m ohne USt.; Stadt Graz 2012: 750 Euro/m
  2. Finnland Oulu 1 Mio für 2km; RS1 180 Mio für 100km (zur Hälfte Brücken!); F25 Belgien 16km um 13 Mio.:
  3. BMVIT RiZ 10-15.000/Straße, Portland 25-75.000/km
  4. Asfinag: 137.500 Euro pro Meter Autobahn.
  5. Gemittelter Erwartungswert aus Judith-Deutsch-Steg Wien, 4,7 Mio €:, Wilhelm-Kaufmann-Steg Salzburg um 3,5 Mio:, Hard Brücke 3 Mio:, Rad-Brücke über die Dornbirner Ach 1,5 Mio:, 2 Beispiele aus NL:,
  6. Ausbau einer durchschn. Kreuzung, entspricht ca. 4 Gehsteigvorziehungen oder einer Ampel (laut Radlobby Österreich)
  7. BMVIT, Radverkehr in Zahlen 2014
  8. Mittelwert. 3.000-6.000 € laut BMVIT, RV in Zahlen; Kosten Salzburger Radabstellanlage Hbf 342.000 € für 720 Plätze (ohne Gebäude) und Radstation Attnang Puchheim 780.000 € für 100 PLätze (inkl. Gebäude) laut BMVIT ISR-Bericht 2008-2016;NL: 80 Mio Invstition in 4 Jahren bei doppelt so vielen Einwohnern macht 10 Mio jährlich auf Ö umgelegt. 1/4 wg RV-Anteil.
  9. Auskunft Verwaltung laut con.sens
  10. Marktgerechte Schätzungen der Autoren
  11. Schulen Statistik Austria:
  12. Citybike Wien, Gewista
  13. Masterplan Radfahren 2015 – 2025, BMNT

Fotos: Peter Provaznik, Christian Fürthner, Gewista, Vello, Stadt Wien, Land Vorarlberg, Stadt Salzburg

Posted on September 17, 2018