63% of all road accidents in Graz, that result in injury or death involve cyclists, Source: Depositphotos

Graz police announce crack down on drunk cycling

Graz police announce crack down on drunk cycling

Here is what you need to know about cycling laws in Austria

Today, the Graz cycling police reported on the infraction rates of cyclists in the city. The officers have registered 600 fines and over 1,800 violations since they were deployed on 1 May. Because many of the offences had to do with drunk cycling, the local police department announced more focused checks for the future.

According to their statement, people deliberately chose to ride a bike instead of a motor vehicle, when they planned on drinking. Graz Police Chief Thomas Heiland was quoted by the ORF, the National Austrian Broadcasting Network, explaining that 63% of traffic accidents with injury or death in the city involved cyclists.

While the police did not provide specific data on how many of those involved alcohol, Mr Heiland emphasised that the total number of accidents could go even higher thanks to people’s newfound drinking and cycling habits.

This has sparked a discussion on what cycling laws should be in force in Austria as citizens view drunk cycling as more permissible than driving a car under the influence.

The average speed of an amateur cyclist hovers around 30 kilometres, according to measurements taken during Tour de France. This means that, quite often, cyclists are the ones who are at risk, considering that most cities lack a comprehensive cycling infrastructure and people are forced to compete with cars for road space.

What do you need to do when cycling in Austria?

Cycling laws in Austria are fairly non-prohibitive and do offer people some leeway in considering that cyclists are uniquely vulnerable to road accidents. At the same time, they do tend to treat cyclists as part of regular road traffic, because they use regular streets and interact with pedestrians.

One of the big regulations is wearing a helmet, which is absolutely mandatory for all cyclists or cycling passengers under the age of 12. At the same time, parents or guardians are responsible if kids are not wearing helmets.

The bike itself needs to be equipped with both a front and rear light, and cyclists always need to give a signal when turning. They also have to give way - yield and stop signs apply to them - as well as follow the speed limit.

Furthermore, cycling against the flow of traffic is only permitted if there is an additional sign. Pedestrians have priority over bikes, so pedestrian zones are prohibited for bikes unless there is a sign. On the road, cyclists must always use the road and if there is a bike lane, they have to use that. Talking on the phone without a hands-free device is also forbidden.

With regards to alcohol, the legal limit is 0.8 permilles or 0.4 milligrams. Above 0.8 permilles, the fine is between 800 and 3,700 euros. Above 1.2 permilles, the fine is between 1,200 and 4,400 euros, while above 1.6, the fine is from 1,600 to 5,900 euros. Also, if a cyclist refuses to take an alcohol test, he is eligible for the maximum penalty bracket.



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