On World Bicycle Day on 3 June, federal minister Leonore Gewessler (Green Party) got a lot of attention for her announcement of a bicycle campaign promising up to €40m in federal subsidies for investments in bike infrastructure. We are taking a closer look at what is included in these investments as well as at the additional subsidies for cycle highways. Municipalities wanting to invest in cycling traffic as crisis-proof, sustainable form of mobility can apply for these subsidies from July.
The green light from the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) frees up €40m in investments for the extension and improvement of cycle traffic as well as climate-friendly mobility management in 2020. This means an almost tenfold increase in the funding budget compared to last year. With its “klimaaktiv mobil” Initiative, the BMK is also a member of Cycle Competence Austria. Every euro invested in a bicycle path flows into the local economy. With bicycle funding, we are creating 18,000 secure jobs in Austria,” said Gewessler pointing out the economic benefit of her welcomed initiative.
The “klimaaktiv mobil” funding budget will be increased from €4.4m to €21.4m. Money from the former traffic ministry’s budget which is now combined with the environmental ministry are added to that. Roland Romano, spokesman for Cycle Competence member Radlobby Österreich confirms the upward trend: “So far one euro per head and year was spent on cycle traffic. In some places it was only half a euro,” he calculated. “Now spending will increase to 4.5 or 5 euros.” These numbers mirror the federal contributions to cycling subsidies. Including funding from provinces and municipalities €30 per head would be recommended. This would allow an annual cycling budget of €3bn within a decade. Check our detailed calculations on this here (in German).
High-quality cycling infrastructure like this cycle highway Nijmegen-Arnhem in the Netherlands also pays off economically: active mobility saves health costs.
Which investments are subsidised?
The subsidies are aimed at provinces, cities, municipalities, companies and associations as well as touristic institutions. In addition to rural areas which could apply for subsidies last year, the new initiative also allows larger cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants to get financial support in expanding cycle traffic. Among the investments eligible for subsidies are for example the construction of bike paths and bicycle parking, bike sharing but also awareness-raising measures, signage and accompanying information campaigns. A particular incentive for companies is the financial support of so-called “job bikes” allowing a healthy commute on bikes.
The funding rate – depending on the mix of measures and the project quality – can be up to 30% of the costs eligible for funding. Cycle highways will even be subsidies with 50% of the construction costs – see more on this below. The details for applying for funding will be finalised by 1 July.
How high is the funding level?
The funding amounts to a maximum of 30% of the costs eligible for subsidies, with the exception of cycle highways (50%). Cycle traffic projects are subsidised at a standard funding rate of 20% of the costs eligible for subsidies. There are also the following add-on premiums up to the 30% maximum:
+ 5% funding premium when two measures are combined
+ 5% funding premium for awareness-raising measures
+ 5% funding premium when including other municipalities or companies respectively
Projects in rural areas, if they meet the funding criteria of the funding budget for rural development (ELER), are subsidies at a rate of up to 50% of the eligible costs for regional authorities.
New funding focus: cycle highways
The funding package also aims to speed up the expansion of high-quality cycling infrastructure allowing safe and attractive cycling over longer distances. Because of the higher costs of investments the construction of cycle highways by regional authorities is subsidised at a rate of up to 50% of the eligible costs.
Cycle highways in Norway as model for Austria’s municipalities? If the criteria are met 50% can be subsidised.
The criteria for cycle highways are modelled on international standards and are yet to be published in detail. The most important points are:
- Minimum width of the traffic area of 4 metres (2-way cycle path) or 2 metres (one-way cycle path)
- Crossings at the same level as car traffic or giving cyclists the right of way at same-level crossings
- Bend radiuses of 20 metres (projected speed 30 km/h) or 8 metres at intersections (projected speed 20 km/h)
It will be important to declare routes as cycles highways in a planning document on provincial level or respectively at the level of a city region. Further, analyses of the potential for change in accessibility by bike through this construction measure will be significant.