More Austrians to cycle amid fuel price hikes

Around 25 per cent of Austrians are cycling each day or several days a week, according to a traffic information organisation.The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) said today (Mon) its research suggested that one out of four Austrians were cycling on a daily basis or more than once a week. The club said it expected this share to grow in the near future due to soaring car fuel prices. The average price for one litre of car petrol rose by 22 per cent from February 2010 to the same month of this year.The VCÖ explained a third of people living in Salzburg and the western provinces of Vorarlberg and Tyrol were cycling every day or on several days every week, while just one in six residents of Vienna were doing so too. The organisation praised political decision-makers for various measures encouraging cycling such as investments in cycling networks and more and better cycling paths.Bregenz, the provincial capital of Vorarlberg, was recently identified as Austria’s “cycling capital” for its exemplary cycling network. Around 19 per cent of overall traffic in the city is cycling, while Salzburg and the Styrian capital Graz are neck and neck in second place with 16 per cent.Vienna has the largest cycling path network of all Austrian cities with more than 1,100 kilometres. Critics have however pointed out that cycling lanes going into the opposite direction of one-way roads are also considered by this figure. Such paths are widely regarded as too dangerous for cyclists as many motorists do not expect oncoming traffic in such streets.The city’s new government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Green Party said it wanted to encourage more residents of the city to use bicycles more often instead of their cars by investing more money into Vienna’s cycling facilities.Every Austrian covered an average 225 kilometres by bike in 2009, according to the VCÖ. Half a million bicycles were sold in Austria every year in the past few years, whereas more than 2,000 bikes are reported as stolen every month. Thirty-nine cyclists died in traffic accidents in Austria in 2009.