The regions Hall in Tyrol and Lauterach in Vorarlberg are using Cycle Competence to show the potential every-day cycling can have to reduce traffic in rural areas: Cycling streets (Fahrradstraßen), cycle traffic networks and filling gaps are prioritised in comprehensive regional concepts.
This is also the topic for a parliamentary evening in Berlin. “Cycling in rural areas” will be discussed as part of the cycling academy organised by the German Institute for Urban Studies (Difu), subsidised by the German transport ministry BMVI and with content support from Cycle Competence. The discussion on strategies for active everyday mobility will take place at the Austrian embassy in Berlin on 4 June 2019 starting at 6.30pm. Cycle Competence members Andrea Weninger (Rosinak & Partner), Robert Thaler (BMNT) and the regional council member of Vorarlberg Johannes Rauch will be holding talks.
To increase the share of cycle traffic within the modal split all over the country it is not enough – according to Difu – to “simply look at urban traffic. The bicycle also has as yet underused potential to shift traffic in rural areas. For this to happen it needs comprehensive cycling strategies with a catalogue of measures in different areas – as is shown by Austrian practical examples and pan-European initiatives.”
Strengthening cycling traffic in Hall together
Since January 2018 Cycle Competence members Planoptimo and Rosinak & Partner are working together with representatives of six Tyrol communities covering Hall and the surrounding area. These have joined forces to create a planning group to create a joint cycling network in the region of Hall. The results have now been presented. “Making cycling traffic more attractive” is identified as one of the levers to limit the “massive traffic burden” for the region. Currently only 9% of everyday routes in the planning area are covered on a bike. In Innsbruck, which is just 10km away from Hall, the share stands at 22% already.
The core piece of the new network will be the cycle highway PV16 to Innsbruck running from the town centre of Mills via Hall, Absam, Thaur and Rum. To implement the project several gaps in the existing cycling network are to be closed. As requested by the adjacent municipalities the routing will aim to integrate residential areas, schools, industrial areas and sports grounds.
Apart from the Highway there will also be a further route running from West to East a bit further north. This “Village Route” will be planned as a leisure route to connect Absam and Gnadenwald. The aim is to get the cycling network set up within the next five years. Over a shorter term five pilot projects are to be implemented, which the planners have identified together with the municipalities. Among those is a traffic-calmed cycling connection between Thaur and the swimming pool in Hall. In this town a combined pedestrian and cycling lane is to be created to connect to the cycling route along the Inn valley. The latter is to be continued on the Nothern river bank. According to Helmut Köll from Planoptimo this is the “nicer” side of the river. In Hall there will also be a cycling street (Kaiser-Max-Straße, Rudolfstraße, Samerweg).
Together citizens, administration and planners are looking for the best solution for cycling traffic in Hall and its surroundings.
The main challenge, according to Köll, is Thaur. It “remains to be hoped that the municipality will find a solution by combining land to ensure that the cycling highway towards Innsbruck can be completed,” the planner told the regional newspaper „Tiroler Tageszeitung”. According to the paper Absam, Hall and Mils already have passed a decision of principle for the cycling concept. Thaur, Rum and Gnadenwald still have to take this step. The province of Tyrol is subsidising cross-regional cycling paths.
Lauterach: safe North-South connection
The key phrase “closing gaps” also plays an important part in the new cycling plans for Lauterach in the district of Bregenz in Vorarlberg. According to a local edition of the regional daily “Vorarlberger Nachrichten”, this region has seen “a lot of high-priced initiatives” over the last year to create unconnected “comfort cycle paths”. In various talks with different part of the municipality as well as public information events it became clear how important safe cycling is for the citizens.
Therefore the local government in Lauterach has decided to re-define certain roads as cycling streets to create a continuous North-South connection. To start with these will include three roads connecting the town’s northern border on the Bregenzerach river and the Lerchenauerstraße. In a next step, further roads are to follow to create a safe connection all the way to the southernmost border of the residential areas, the paper noted. For the whole project a budget of 400.000 to 500.000 euros is earmarked, as the re-definition of roads into cycling streets will also include a renewal of the road surfaces.
We already reported about cycling in Lauterach and the adjacent nature reserve in spring 2018: CYCLE ROUTE THROUGH THE NATURE RESERVE
Early pioneers of cycling streets
The province of Vorarlberg, a member of Cycle Competence, is subsidising the initiative in Lauterach. This province is home to one of the oldest cycling streets (“Fahrradstraßen”) in Austria: Already five years ago Hard introduced this special type of road on which cyclists and car drivers have equal rights of use and a general speed limit of 30 km/h applies. To help municipalities to successfully create cycling streets in a municipality Cycle Competence has compiled guidelines.
Photos: Province of Vorarlberg, Planoptimo, Rosinak & Partner