Vienna is Austria’s cultural, political, and economic center. It’s rated as one of the best cities in the world in which to live. It attracts millions of tourists a year. And the cyclists are taking over.
Austria’s transportation association, the Austrian Transport Club (VCÖ), has been counting the cyclists on the road daily between April and August since 2003. This year, they’ve got good news for Austrians and the rest of the world – more cyclists are on the road than ever before.
Bicycle Traffic Up an Average of 25%
Martin Blum of the VCÖ reports that cycle traffic is up all over town – nearly 5,000 cyclists daily go through the Opernring section of Vienna’s Ringstrasse, and well over 2,000 pass Vienna West Station each day. The Vienna Row saw nearly double its previous numbers of cyclists – just shy of 1,200 per day!
In addition to putting out traffic counters and recording the number of cyclists each day, the VCÖ also polled the city – 44% of the respondents reported they were cycling more often because of high gasoline prices, not to mention health or environmental concerns. Regardless of the reason to cycle, Blum strongly supports his fellow citizens: “Anyone on a bicycle not only saves money, but reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The cyclists deserve our heartfelt thanks,” he said.
Vienna Responds to the Cycling Crowd
Vienna is responding to the rapid increase of cyclists; the cycling infrastructure is expanding to accommodate the new cycle traffic, and existing bottlenecks are being removed. Blum also advocates abolishing mandatory use of the bicycle lane. “If experienced cyclists are allowed to slip into normal traffic lanes, then the newer riders have more space in the bike lane,” he explains. “That’s where they’ll feel the safest.”
The VCÖ is promoting further infrastructure improvements, including opening one-way streets to two-way bike traffic. Belgium and the Canton of Bern have already adopted this practice, allowing cyclists to ride either way on all but the narrowest of streets. Another example the VCÖ would like to see followed is the Cycle Superhighway seen in London.
Traffic Increase By Location
The VCÖ compiled a list of the most popular cycling locations in Vienna and tracked the increase in cyclists for each of them between 2010 and 2011, summarized in the list below.
- Vienna Row: up 76%
- Vienna West Station: up 25%
- Argentinierstrasse: up 24%
- Opernring: up 22%
- Lasallestrasse: up 16%
- Donaukanal: up 13%
We know a lot of our readers are cyclists themselves, or interact with them on the road – any stories? Impressions? Tell us what you think of cycling in major cities in the comments, below.