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Bicycle Streets & Encounter-zones enter road traffic regulation (Austria)

By Raf Canters / Updated: 01 Aug 2014
The Council of Ministers has voted, decided on and passed a new amendment in Road Traffic Regulation which primarily concerns cyclists and pedestrians. New additions are Bicycle Streets, Encounter-zones and changes to the obligatory use of bicycle-infrastructure.
Recently, the Council of Ministers in Austria has taken a firm step towards safer, more equal and friendly mobility by further acknowledging other (weaker) road users and moving away from a strict policy which gives motorised traffic sole priority on roads.

The amendment concerns various new conditions, but the biggest changes are the new possibilities to establish Bicycle Streets and Encounter-zones as well as relaxing the obligation to use special bicycle-infrastructure, such as cycle paths, when provided. Following good practice examples in Germany, the creation of these streets and zones is now possible.

To further ease comprehension, Bicycle Streets are roads or sections of roads where cyclists and pedestrians have priority and right-of-way. Only driving to and from destinations here is allowed by car, but no passing through. Encounter-zones are areas where motorised and non-motorised traffic have equal rights and the road is to be used by mixed traffic. What basically applies is that the weakest road-user has priority and the speed limit is 20 km/h.

Though the decision if and how these zones are implemented lies with the district councils and communities, local politicians have already produced lists of proposed streets and roads to tackle “hot-spots” as soon as possible.

A further, very important, change is that local authorities can now determine where possibilities exist to cancel the obligation to use bicycle-infrastructure when provided.
Until now, if bicycle paths or mixed bicycle and foot paths were provided next to a road, these had to be used when riding a bicycle. But a lot of mixed paths are very narrow, causing more problems than solving them and here is where this rule is to apply. By also letting cyclists use the road, they can travel faster and with less conflicts with pedestrians, creating easier traffic flow.

Source: http://graz.radln.net/cms/beitrag/11781839/25359410/
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