New year, new laws… there are all sorts of changes on the transportation horizon in Vienna, affecting bicycles, E-scooters, U-Bahn and even horses. Here are 11 changes (in no particular order) concerning transportation: Some of them can help you avoid a fine, others are simply good to know.
1) Food Ban in the subway – You can no longer eat in the U-Bahn. However, there are currently no monetary fines for breaking this ban.
2) Driving through a Rettungsgasse (emergency lane) is now a Vormerkdelikt – When a traffic jam starts to form on the Autobahn (highway), cars form an emergency lane in the middle of the road to allow police, ambulance, and fire brigades to get through quickly. Driving through the emergency lane will now go on your record. First time offenders will get a warning; for the second time, measures are taken, and the third strike will see your driver’s license suspended for at least three months.
3) Electric vehicles are now exempt from IG-L speed restrictions – The Austrian Ambient Air Quality Act aims to prevent or reduce air pollutants, in part by adding speed limits in some sections of the autobahn. Starting in 2019, electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles no longer have to follow this restriction.
4) Vignette Updates – the Vignette is a sticker needed to use the highway, proof that you have paid to use the Austrian Autobahn. Valid for either a year, two months or ten days, there is also a digital version that eliminates the need for the sticker. Previously, the digital Vignette was only valid after 18 days, but starting this year, it is immediately valid once purchased. The price was also raised by 2.2 per cent. Finally, there is now a Vignette subscription, which makes it easier to remember to get a new one each year.
5) New Traffic Regulations for Bicycles – When a Mehrzweckstreifen ends, bicycles no longer have secondary priority, but the same priority as cars. A Mehrzweckstreifen is a bicycle lane that can be shared with cars, unlike “regular” bicycle lanes.
6) Harsher Penalties for Cheating on the Driver’s License Exam – Anyone caught cheating on the theoretical part of the driver’s license exam will be barred from taking the exam for nine months. Previously, there was no penalty for cheating.
7) No More Turkish driving Exam – Starting in 2019, the Austrian driver’s license exam can no longer be taken in Turkish, which until recently was the most popular language after German. The exam can be still taken in English, Croatian, Slovenian and, of course, German.
8) Electric Cars Must Make Noise – Starting in July 2019, all new electric vehicles must be equipped with an acoustic warning system (basically fake engine sounds), to be activated when the car is traveling slower than 20 km/h, with different sounds for accelerating and decelerating. This is so people are more aware of electric cars, as they produce a lot less noise than conventional ones.
9) Automated Driving Regulations – These new regulations allow vehicles with certain automated systems to use them to their full extent. For example, hands-free driving on the Autobahn is now allowed if the car is equipped with autopilot technology – previously the driver was not allowed to take their hands off the wheel, even if self-steering was active. Another area affected is automated parking: while previously permitted, the driver had to be inside the vehicle with their hands on the wheel. Now, cars can park themselves entirely without human assistance. It is still unclear when exactly this new regulation comes into effect.
10) New E-scooter Laws – In May, the Straßenverkehrsordnung (road traffic act) will have an amendment regarding E-scooters, bikes and novelty vehicles such as hoverboards. In the future, E-scooters will only be permitted on bike lanes; if there is none available, the sidewalk may be used, but only at walking speed.
11) Mounted Police – Starting in May, police on horseback will commence patrolling the Prater and Donauinsel. 16 policemen and 14 horses are currently undergoing training.