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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What you need to know about cycling in Austria

Each country has its own rules and regulations when it comes to navigating the road and in Austria it’s no different - there are even special rules for cyclists.

What you need to know about cycling in Austria
A cyclist looks out across the Sonnberg in Austria Photo by Matthias Patzuda on Unsplash

Cyclists might take up less space than cars on roads but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from the rules of the road.

In fact, cycling on roads can be dangerous, which is why there are rules in place in Austria to protect cyclists and other road users.

Here’s what you need to know about cycling in Austria.

Traffic rules and regulations

In Austria, cyclists have to follow traffic regulations – just like any other road user.

This means stopping at red lights and giving way at junctions. However, there are a few specific rules that cyclists should be aware of.

Cyclists have right of way on all cycle lanes, cycle paths, combined pedestrian and cycle paths and street crossings for cyclists.

At zebra crossings though, pedestrians have right of way.

The Austria Road Traffic Act (Straßenverkehrsordnung – StVO) states that when using a bike crossing, cyclists should not travel faster than 10km per hour and should not cross a street in a way that is surprising to drivers.

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Also, trams and emergency services have right of way on street crossings for cyclists.

Cyclists can travel on one-way streets in both directions – but only if it’s a residential street (Wohnstraße) and the rule is displayed with a traffic sign.

Cycling drunk is a big no-no and the alcohol limit for cyclists is the same as drivers – 0.5 milligrams. You could even end up losing your driving licence if caught cycling over the limit. 

Children under the age of 12 must wear a helmet when riding a bike, including children on the back of a bicycle on a seat. 

Additionally, only people aged 16 and over can carry a child on the back of a bike, and only one child at a time.

Helmets are not mandatory for people over the age of 12, but they are highly recommended.

Rules for the bike

In 2001, the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technologies (BMK) issued the Bicycle Ordinance.

This was in response to a rise in traffic accidents caused by cyclists riding bikes with technical defects or in the dark without lights.

The introduction of the Bicycle Ordinance means that cyclists not only have to follow the rules of the road, but their bikes must be kitted out with the right safety gear too, as detailed below.

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All bikes must have two fully-functioning brakes (front and back), a bell or horn, a front headlight and a rear red light for cycling in the dark or in poor visibility.

Flashing headlights are forbidden, so make sure you use a regular light.

Bikes must also be equipped with a front white reflector, a rear red reflector, yellow reflectors on pedals and reflectors on wheels.

Anyone caught riding a bike without brakes could be prosecuted under Austrian law and cyclists have a duty to maintain their bikes in full (safe) working order.

Country cycling vs city cycling

As in most countries around the world, there are differences in Austria when it comes to cycling in cities or the countryside.

In Austrian cities, there are many designated cycle lanes on roads and bike parking facilities are easy to find. 

However, there are higher levels of traffic and other road users in general, which makes cycling a more dangerous mode of transport.

In the countryside, cycle lanes are less common, but there are plenty of cycle paths and access to off-road trails. This can make cycling a safer experience.

But whether cycling in a city like Vienna or a small town in Tyrol, the traffic rules and regulations still apply and have to be followed by all cyclists.

Finally, if you must use the pedestrian pathway anywhere, the polite approach is to get off the bike and push it.

READ MORE: What are kids allowed to do alone under Austrian law?

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

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What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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