I was in Vienna for a couple of weeks, and here are a few observations on cycling there.

Most days I used the free CityBikes, and on the weekend I hired a bike from Trek in the 1st District. I hired a hybrid for €24 but they also hire road bikes and MTB.

Vienna is quite a bit like Adelaide. Lots of flat areas through the city and some great hills for road and off-road cycling. The biggest difference is infrastructure. In the city pedestrians and cyclists are mostly separated from cars, either slightly raised at the side of the road, or in split pedestrian/cyclist paths. Quite a few painted bike lanes, but when it got tricky such as at major junctions, the bikes were separated from the cars. No just leaving you to it, like we’ve got here. You can go between most parts of the city without leaving safe cycling spaces. And up the Danube and in places like Donauinsel island there are heaps of recreational bike tracks.

The commuting scene is not like Copenhagen, where bikes dominate and everyone has a classic basket-bike. Numbers are lower for a start – I think 6% share, compared to Copenhagen over 30%, but way more than here which I think is less than 2%. And there are a mix of hybrid bikes, road bikes, even fixies. But a much wider variety of ordinary people cycling than Adelaide’s more typical hi viz road warriors and lycra.

The commuters / ordinary riders really can cycle though. In Adelaide you can distinguish most people who just doodle along from those who obviously do 100km on the weekend. In Vienna there are women in dresses just powering along, who you’d have to put in a real effort to keep up with.

The recreational cycling scene is big. Cycling up the Danube on a weekend is busy like Military Road or the Esplanade. The whole range, families, touring groups, large/old people on trekking bikes, lycra groups. The road groups kick on north west into the hills, the slower ones back into the city on the dozens of flat cycle paths on Donauinsel. I did about 85km and 800m climbing on the Saturday.

The CityBike scheme is great. There are about 120 locations through the city and it’s really popular, presumably thanks to the better infrastructure and lack of helmet laws. Also, Vienna has an amazing public transport system and there is a CityBike station next to all the major U-bahns, so you can join the PT to the free bikes. Phone apps like Bikar and CityBiker have maps with all the locations and info on whether there are spare bikes and boxes at each. The CityBikes aren’t bad, and I managed about 50km on one up the Danube, hooking onto the back of the occasional group ride that went past and seeing how long I could keep up (not long).

About 25 to 30% of riders wore helmets, which is way more than Copenhagen, where it was a rarity. No lycra commuters like the ones we get in Adelaide for some reason, all the road riders were going for a ride. No hi viz, lots of ordinary clothes.

Viennese drivers can overtake though. I rode back from the hills on the B14 (100kmh single carriageway) and nobody even got close to a 1.5m pass. Didn’t seem to bother any of the drivers having to overtake properly either.

So, Vienna is a great place to cycle whatever your riding preference. Recommended if you are in that part of the world.

SA government/ACC: learn from this and build more cycle infrastructure. Don’t overthink it, just have some degree of separation between cars and bikes. Vienna is an entirely achievable comparison - they've got an old city and built space for pedestrians and bikes in the space available, as well as trams and buses. If you need to drive you still can, only the very centre is pedestrianised, but driving is appropriately prioritised ie not über alles.

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A few years ago, I cycled about 300 km around the north east of Austria. This was done on a borrowed hybrid. I found other road users very courteous towards cyclists. That is their culture. The main hazard out in the country was deer bounding across the road !


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