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What are kids allowed to do alone under Austrian law?

Summer is coming, schools are closing, and many parents will be wondering how they are going to keep their kids entertained and juggle other responsibilities over the next few weeks.

Children scoot near a park (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)
Children scoot near a park

It may surprise many people in Austria to know there are some rules about how old your child can be before they are allowed out bike riding or scooting alone – and that children aged under 14 must be home by a certain hour. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Curfew

Children and young people are only allowed to stay out until 23:00 across Austria until they reach the age of 14, according to the ÖAMTC (Austrian automobile, motorcycle and touring club).

This time was standardised throughout the country at the beginning of 2019 by the Youth Protection Act. Legal guardians can also impose stricter going-out times for their children, but not more generous ones.

Trams, buses and trains

In theory children are allowed to use public transport alone from their sixth birthday. However, some companies such as Wiener Linien, Grazer Linien and Linz AG have ruled that children under six years of age are not allowed to use the facilities and vehicles without an adult. 

An escort service for children is also offered on some railway lines. When traveling abroad, children who are traveling alone, with one parent or accompanied by grandparents or friends should have a power of attorney from their legal guardian. You can find out more at this website.

Scooters

Since April 1st, 2019, children, if they are over eight-years-old, have been allowed to ride alone on scooters, as long as they are not electric or motorised. 

Cycling

Children under the age of twelve are only allowed to cycle on public roads in Austria under the supervision of an accompanying person, who must be at least 16 years old.

They must also wear a cycle helmet until they are 12 years old.

However, children who have successfully passed a cycling test are allowed to ride alone from the age of 10. Since April 1st, 2019, the cycling test can be taken at the age of nine if children are in the 4th grade of school

Generally the preparation for this test and the test itself are held by the compulsory schools as part of the traffic education program

Children must learn the rules of the road police and take a test before they are given a permit. 

The new free ÖAMTC App Fahrrad-Champion helps with the preparation , with which traffic rules and the correct behaviour in traffic can be learned in a playful way.You can find out more at www.oeamtc.at/fahrrad.

Cycle training

If you are based in Vienna, free cycle training for children is available at the Naschmarkt exercise area and in the Kaisermühlen cycling park. The training is suitable for children between three and 12 years of age, with people on site to support you. Free rental bikes and helmets are available.

Sessions run between June 11th and October 10th on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and can be attended without prior registration. Adults can have bikes checked at the same time.

Staying alone in the house

There are no hard and fast rules as to when you can leave your children alone at home, according to the WienXtra website.

As a parent or legal guardian, you have a duty to supervise your child, known as die Aufsichtspflicht in German. This is generally valid until your child turns 18 and means you have to ensure nothing harms them mentally or physically. This duty can be transferred to a teacher, babysitter or other responsible adult. 

If considering leaving your child alone, the youth organisation Wien Xtra recommends asking yourself.

  • How old is the child?
  • What is the stage of development? 
  • How does the respective child behave in certain situations? Does the child repeatedly exhibit risky behaviour? Or are they shy, cautious, and reliable?

All these points should be taken into consideration when deciding if a child can be left alone.

One final point to bear in mind is that guardians may be in some cases financially responsible if their child does something illegal such as vandalism, while in their care, according to the Kurier newspaper.

The paper cited as an example a case where some elementary school children deliberately scratched a 52 cars in Graz, causing damage of €30,000.

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PUBLIC TRANSPORT

1-2-3 Ticket: Austria’s nationwide unlimited rail pass available from October

After several years of waiting, Austria's nationwide unlimited rail pass - now renamed the Klimaticket (climate ticket) - will be available from October, although some states have yet to sign up.

1-2-3 Ticket: Austria's nationwide unlimited rail pass available from October
A person boards a subway train in the Austrian city of Vienna. Photo by Samuel-Elias Nadler on Unsplash

Austria’s much awaited ‘1-2-3 Ticket’ – which gives unlimited travel across the entire country – will be valid for travel from Austrian National Day on October 26th onwards.

The idea behind the 1-2-3 ticket is that Austrian residents can choose to pay one euro per day for unlimited public transport in their own state, two euros per day for travel in two neighbouring states or three euros per day to travel throughout Austria. 

The ticket has been renamed the Klimaticket – meaning climate ticket – to highlight the positive environmental outcomes associated with rail travel. 

The ticket has been repeatedly delayed due to disputes over costs and the suitability of particular routes, however these look now to be settled.

The official announcement was made on Wednesday, with Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper saying Austria chipped in an additional 100 million euros to make the project work.

How much will it cost? 

The ticket for the whole of Austria – including all nine states – will cost 1095 euros per year, although it will go on sale for an introductory price of 949 euros annually from October 1st.

Senior citizens and people under the age of 26 will only have to pay 821 euros per year – or 699 euros if they buy the ticket before October 26th. 

For those who want to travel through two states, it will cost 730 euros, while travel through one state will be 365 euros annually.

The 365 euro ticket has been in place for some time in the state of Vienna and has won International acclaim.

READ MORE: What is the 1-2-3-ticket? Everything you need to know about the new ticket planned to give unlimited public transport across Austria

Which types of travel are included – and which states are part of the plan? 

When it is launched, the ticket will be valid for all types of travel in Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Tyrol and Vorarlberg, including buses, trains, long-distance trains (i.e. ÖBB) and trams. 

Three eastern states – Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland – are however still holding out on the project. 

As it stands, ÖBB travel in these states as well as bus travel and S-Bahn services will be included in the ticket, along with travel on services operated by Wiener Linien. 

Other forms of regional and local transport will not be included in these three states. 

Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler said she was confident the other three states would sign up. 

“We’ll make it there as well, I’m certain” she said. 

“You really get a hell of a lot for your money.”

Why are these three states holding out? 

Broadcaster ORF says the fact that no solution has yet been found is also due to the resistance of the federal state of Burgenland.

The complaint relates to the fact that the ticket would dramatically increase the cost of travelling from Burgenland to Vienna, which is a relatively common commuter trip. 

As travelling from Burgenland to Vienna involves crossing Lower Austria, the price of a season ticket from Neudörfl to Vienna, for example, which currently costs 730 euros, would increase to 1,095 euros per year under the new scheme.

An estimated 25,000 people commute regularly from Burgenland to Vienna, based on pre-pandemic numbers

Transport authorities are pushing for Lower Austria and Burgenland to be treated as one state for the purposes of the pass, Der Standard reports, thereby allowing for a reduction in the cost for commuters. 

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