Pro-cycling amendments to the legal framework bring a fresh breeze to cycling traffic in Austria: This was verified by CycleCompetence member mobility researcher FGM in its brand-new evaluation of the cycling reform package “Fahrradpaket”. The amendments to traffic regulations StVO in 2013 by act of parliament – cycling roads, encounter zones and optional bike paths – are well received by Austrian municipalities.
In total currently 130 of these new measures – cycling roads (Fahrradstraßen) with priority for cyclists, so-called “encounter zones” (Begegnungszonen) for all traffic participants and optional cycling lanes (Radwege ohne Benützungspflicht) – have been implemented. This is the result of the study by mobility research company FGM-AMOR, commissioned by the Austrian ministry for transport, innovation and technology (bmvit). The aim of the research was to look into the utilisation of these three innovative instruments to promote cycling traffic.
62 optional bike paths, 53 encounter zones and 23 cycling roads have so far been counted. Frontrunners are the municipalities Tulln, Wolfurt and Linz. They have implemented the largest number of these innovations. In the federal capital Vienna these measures have also been applied to several road sections. The map created on the basis of an online-survey plus additional research shows the distribution in Austria. Here you can find a short summary presentation of the results: DOWNLOAD.
Distribution of the new instruments in Austria (extract from the brochure)
Among all measures the encounter zone (Begegnungszone) is the most widespread. The redesign of the Mariahilfer Straße in Vienna, Austria’s most well-known “Begegnungszone”, seems to have contributed to this. Encounter zones are an effective measure for traffic calming and increasing mutual consideration in traffic. The redesigning of streets which mostly goes hand in hand with the creation of an encounter zone also increases the quality of sojourns in public spaces. Many municipalities used this advantage and introduced encounter zones to (old) city centres and shopping lanes.
Cycling roads (Fahrradstraßen) have not (yet) reached the same level of awareness. Only nine municipalities made use of this possibility. A positive example is the Vorarlberg municipality Wolfurt. As part of the “Wolfurt Weg” (for which the municipality received the mobility prize of the Austrian traffic association (VCÖ) this year) seven cycling roads were put in place. Cycling roads are streets intended for cyclists. Cars only have the right to access, depart or cross. Cyclists can ride next to each other. Municipalities profit from a fast and especially very cost-effective expansion of the cycling network, because no structural measures are actually needed to turn a street into a cycling road.
The amendment to the law in 2013 also loosened cyclists’ obligations to use bike paths. Silently and quietly at least 28 municipalities have used this innovation and introduced optional bike paths (nicht-benützungspflichtige Radwege). These can be used but cyclists can also use the road in those sections. Square instead of round signs are signalling this to road users. Especially alongside roads with a lot of changes in sides (e.g. two-direction bike paths on the left-hand side) or to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on sidewalks and bike paths this measure makes sense.
Further reading with all details (in German): BMVIT (2015) : Neue Wege zur Förderung des Radverkehrs in Gemeinden. (New ways to promote cycling in municipalities). Vienna