More and more cyclists in Vienna refuse to let the cold and wet winter weather discourage them. From 2010 to 2012, the number of cyclists at the permanent counting stations operated by the City of Vienna has been steadily on the rise.
To ensure that cycling remains an attractive mobility option throughout the year and that the number of cyclists in Vienna will continue to grow, the city’s cycle ways need to be practicable even in icy and snowy weather.
We have interviewed a representative of the City of Vienna to learn how the City Administration keeps the cycling network “going” even in the chilliest months. Stefan Langer of Municipal Department 48 (MA 48, Street Cleaning) reports on the work of his department and offers suggestions for winter cycling.
Velo-city 2013: How does the City of Vienna make sure that cycle ways are regularly cleaned in the winter?
Stefan Langer: Vienna disposes of a predefined basic cycle way network with a length of 255 km for the winter months. This basic network includes key routes of special importance for commuter traffic and is given priority maintenance over the other cycle ways in the winter season. Thus work schedules were exclusively developed for the winter upkeep of this basic cycle way network. The remaining cycle ways are taken care of as part of the subsidiary street network.
Velo-city 2013: What exactly does winter cycle way maintenance entail?
Stefan Langer: For cycle ways and mixed cycle ways/footpaths, MA 48 uses the wet-salt technology FS 100, for which very small quantities of pure brine (a 20% salt-water solution) are applied to the road surface. In addition to ensuring greater safety for cyclists as compared to grit, the use of brine has the advantages of allowing for very precise scattering and also sticking to the pavement. As a result, the impact on the environment is minimised while at the same time maximising traffic safety.
Velo-city 2013: How are multipurpose traffic lanes dealt with in the winter months? Contra-flow traffic is especially problematic due to snow deposits on the sides of streets.
Stefan Langer: MA 48 tries its best to keep multipurpose traffic lanes free of snow. However, this is not always possible since the snow must be deposited somewhere, especially if it is abundant. Of course, snow is always cleared away from the centre of the road to the left and right; for this reason, it may well happen that part of a multipurpose lane is used for depositing, or that the multipurpose lane is only cleared of snow in a second round.
Velo-city 2013: What are your suggestions for cyclists in the winter?
Stefan Langer: In my opinion, correct lighting and the use of reflectors are particularly important. Poor light conditions and scarce visibility in the winter months can cause very critical situations; therefore it is not only essential for cyclists to have adequate visibility themselves but rather, and above all, to be seen in good time by other road users as well. Moreover, I would like to draw your interest to our website, which offers many other useful suggestions for winter cycling.
We want to thank Stefan Langer for this interview and the insights into how cycle ways are managed during wintertime in Vienna. Have fun winter cycling!
Velo-city 2013 Vienna | Cycling Stories
Florian Lorenz, Hanna Posch
Velo-city 2013 Communications Team