17 Mar Cyclists & Pedestrians: More space, less barriers
According to VCÖ, the lockdowns have changed mobility behaviour. A survey (1000 people) showed that since the beginning of the pandemic 43% of the respondents have walked more often and that 26% cycle more often. This shows how much potential there is in active mobility. However, it also reveals the barriers that hinder this form of mobility.
The obstacles are mostly banal: footpaths and cycle paths that are too narrow. The planning guideline stipulates 2m for pavements and 3m for cycle paths with two-way traffic, but in practice motorised traffic has priority in terms of space. 38% of all pavements in Vienna are narrower than 2m and in addition they are narrowed by lanterns and signs. This space is missing when it comes to encouraging people to walk or cycle. If this succeeds, two goals will be achieved at the same time: climate improvement and reduction of physical inactivity that is harmful to health. WHO recommends 10,000 to 12,000 steps per day to stay fit, which is 7 to 9km. If you consider that about 1/3 of all daily journeys in Austria are shorter than 2.5km, the walking potential becomes clear. In order to use this potential, the conditions for walking and cycling would have to be simplified.
In order to promote active mobility, construction measures and legislation would have to be improved. Starting with a speed limit of 30km/h and at the same time also supplementing and revising the StVO (e.g. a minimum distance for overtaking cyclists is missing; instead there is a paragraph that prohibits pedestrians from “standing without reason” on pavements!)
Experts of the VCÖ demand that these harassments and obstructions for the healthiest and most climate-friendly form of mobility come to an end. They also call for an infrastructure and renovation offensive for wider footpaths and cycle paths.