Cycling campaign after bike garage fiasco

Tens of thousands of Vienna’s residents are cycling to work every day, according to a traffic research organisation.The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) announced today (Weds) that 34,000 of the city’s overall 1.7 million residents use their bikes to get to their workplaces.Now the capital’s coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Green Party presented an initiative called “Bike 2 Work” to encourage more people to cycle instead of using their cars to commute. The programme is expected to be just the first part of a varied set of measures as the government promised to show a lot of effort in increasing the share cyclists and public transport passengers take in Vienna’s individual traffic when it was sworn in last year.Around 247,000 of Austria’s 8.5 million citizens currently cycle to work, according to the VCÖ. The group said only 146,000 did the same 10 years ago.City administrations across the country are pressurised to act about individual traffic as carbon emissions and fine dust pollution rates have strongly increased in the past years.Negative effects on people’s health are expected to intensify as companies are expected to transport more cargo with trucks than in 2009 and last year when they were burdened by the economic crisis.While the number of Austrians endorsing a more eco-friendly lifestyle is understood to rise, studies also show that only a few committed drivers can imagine leading a car-free life.Half a million bicycles are sold in Austria each year, but recent occurrences also suggest it could be an uphill struggle to convince a significant number of motorists to switch to the pedal-powered, environment-protecting alternative.Political opponents of Vienna’s SPÖ-Greens administration claimed earlier this year the government’s bid to make cycling more attractive has flopped as a new bike garage found few clients. Reports revealed only a small number of cyclists used the new facility at the Hietzing underground station since it opened last year. People are asked to pay one Euro a day to park their bicycles in the theft-proof building.City decision-makers vowed to implement measures to make more hobby athletes aware of the service after cycling pressure groups criticised that there are no signs and posters highlighting the existence of the bike garage.The facility is situated at a new so-called cycling highway. The 3.5-kilometre track, which leads along the Wien River, was opened in October 2010.Rivals of the SPÖ said at that time they were not surprised that the extended cycling highway was opened just days ahead of a city parliament election – in which the SPÖ Vienna suffered a bitter defeat which cost the party its absolute majority.