Monday, 22 October 2012


Radwegebenützungspflicht is the compulsory use of cycle infrastructure. It is a law in Austria that cyclists must use the cycle infrastructure if there is some near by (or something like that but it is a bit unclear...).

Some cyclists oppose this law for various reasons but here are some that are plausible arguments IMHO:

- It was introduced to get bikes out of the way of cars.
- Cyclists should have the right to ride fast on the road and not be forced to use the slow poor quality dangerous cycle paths with all the pedestrians, "beginner" cyclists and hazards.
- It re-enforces the cultural opinion that bikes have no right to be on the road.

Statements like these demonstrate these attitudes:

"Schnelle Radler können im Verkehr mitschwimmen und Langsamere oder Ängstliche haben es am Radweg gemütlicher."

One thing I am 100% sure of, if this law is dropped then overnight absolutely nothing will change for 99% of road users. The road environment will still be the same aggressive environment and the cycling infrastructure will still be of poor quality. 8 year old children will not suddenly start riding to school mixing with the 50kmph cars. A few cyclists can run will the bulls with the legal right to be there and can feel superior to all the afraid beginners, but the environment that would enable high levels of cycling will not be any closer.

I personally like adrenalin and going fast. I race extreme sailing boats and ride my mountain bike down hill faster than I really know how too, but I would like to think I can make the differentiation between sport and practical, responsible mobility.

So lets get rid of the Radwegebenützungspflicht so cycle campaigners can focus on the important stuff.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Neuer Radweganschluss zwischen Favoriten und Landstraße

There is a "Neuer Radweganschluss zwischen Favoriten und Landstraße" so I thought I would check it out.

First lets put this in context:
Vienna Central Station is a redevelopment of Wien Südbahnhof. I say redevelopment but I went past this one day and was amazed by the size of the massive hole in the ground 10 meters deep and the size of blue area on the map above. Lets just say this is a hugely important massive Vienna mobility project (judging by the size of that hole it can be nothing else). The red line is a not too bad cycle path to the technical university and Ring. There are also good train, tram, U-bahn, road and bus links. So this is a huge modern mobility hub no doubt about it.

The redevelopment is very far from finished but some things are taking shape and the cycle path has been advertised so lets take a look at it.

A wonderful wide cycle path right in front of the train station (when its built) defining bikes as part of the future mobility plan for Vienna. Great stuff.

Lets look at this in detail. Here is the ride from East to West:

Not bad but lets get into the details more.

This cycle path is wide and great but there is no huge train station spilling out thousands of pedestrians yet. Will the cycle path be clear or will it look like more footpath?  Maybe some red tarmac could have been in the budget for this project?

Trying to go further East along the Gürtel is really bad, just try it. I did it once and I am not going to do it again.

There is an option to turn North at Südtirolaplatz (a sign posted Rad Route!) but you get greated by this door zone of death along Favoritenstrasse (A thought road). No thanks.

I did not go further West or South so I am not sure how it connects up to the districts there. However in the video you will see many junctions with traffic lights. No one likes traffic lights unless they are green.

It is no wonder that such an important hub will have a lot of traffic in and out of it but the important junction of Argentinierstrasse (red line on the map above) is really a problem.  Maybe this is work in progress but this junctions says one thing to a cyclist "JUMP the RED light".  (Note: I did not jump the red light in the video someone else did who kindly volunteered to take this video for me).  I promise you that regular bike commuters will develop elaborate timed traffic island hopping techniques to get across this junction.  These techniques will be mostly illegal but individual solutions to cope with poor design.

Watch this and ask yourself if this is modern mobility for thousands of people a day or is it just a bunch of cars in a traffic jam and loads of red lights that are hard to take seriously ? (note i could not be bothered to wait for them to go green and then red so add time....... to the beginning of this video.)

It is not just my video cyclist, but also this trained stunt cyclist woman also jumped lights here:

I approached this from the centre of town up Argentinierstrasse. This will be important as it links the north/south cycle path to the new east/west cycle path. On the approach I cycled past this:

and found myself here:
when I should legally ended up here:

Clearly this is not clear and needs some work. You could easily remove this Door Zone of Death

and add a meter to the Cycle path at the junction. This would lead to a clear (if red tarmacked) bidirectional crossing,  rather than a freestyle Frogger crossing.

There is also a ENDE of the cycle path that spits you out into the path (East to west video @3:37) of a bus exit to the Gurtel.  It will be interesting how the bike bus conflict is resolved.  Should bikes stay right or left or are buses going to weave in between (or over the top of) the confused cyclists?

So this development has potential but the devil is in the detail. How will this mobility hub be connected up with the rest of Vienna. At the moment it looks like this will be done with public transport but not cycling. There is nothing wrong with public transport and in Vienna there is a hell of a lot that is right, but if you spend a few Euros on this magic mobility hub please lets have some kind of cycle solution that is more than paint and pavement.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Velo-city 2013: The Sound of Cycling – Urban Cycling Cultures

You know when you have bad cycle infrastructure when you start talking about culture.

Cycling should be really boring like Vacuum cleaning culture.  However in Vienna it is not quite main stream yet.  Vienna will host the Velo-city conference and it's marketing draws the link between cycling and Vienna's  great music culture.  It is true that Vienna has a great culture for music and theater.  This culture did not evolve by accident it was engineered by patrons, talented individuals and governmental investment. Big expensive high quality infrastructure was financed, like this, this, this etc.....

I think Velo-city should be about the boring technical infrastructure that makes cycling a mundane practical choice (explained here) rather than some culture phenomenon that happened by accident.  Culture grows out of the environmental conditions that are engineered.

Having said that if you like quirky cycling sub culture Vienna is a really great place to enjoy.