Biking in the City

A campaign targeting cyclists and insuring your wheels in Keys to the City

Services | Vienna Review | September 2011

Messing About on Bikes 

Treating the city as a bicycle adventure playground has, alas, become more difficult, thanks to the police’s Schwerpunktaktion Radfahrer ("target-campaign: cyclists"), known as Aktion Scharf ("operation tough", seriously).

The campaign focuses on the inner city and the districts around the Ring, as well as the 19th to 22nd Districts, and the entire Donauinsel.

The most frequent delicts are illegal parking (e.g. blocking a driveway, entailing a €7 fine), riding on the pavement or in a pedestrian zone (€21), and crossing at a red light (€36).

Drink-riding has a higher price-tag, up to a staggering €3,600. The alcohol limit is 0.8 per mille, or 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, the same as that for motorists in the UK. That’s roughly equivalent to four units of alcohol for men, and three for women. Not a generous allowance: two small glasses of wine make up 3 ½ units, while a healthy liver processes about a unit per hour. If you suspect being even slightly over the limit, it’s best to push your bike, as even minor transgressions are costly.

Carefree Riding

The first half of 2011 registered 3,135 bike thefts, almost 11% more than the year before. So, staying in the saddle certainly requires a decent lock, and possibly a bicycle theft insurance (Raddiebstahlversicherung). 

Avoid bike stores’ insurance offers, as they usually compensate only 80% of the purchase value, sometimes cheekily in the form of shop vouchers. Instead, first check with your household insurance, as most offer an affordable add-on covering all the residents’ bikes, where-ever the theft takes place.

Cyclists’ clubs are the second option. While you must become a member to buy the insurance, it is still good value for money. The Austrian automobile club, ÖAMTC, offers a non-motorized membership (Touring Mitgliedschaft) for €16 p.a. In addition, the annual insurance premium itself is 12.5% of the bicycle’s purchase value (totaling €41 p.a. for a €200 bike). The policy refunds 100% of the bike’s value within five years of purchase, and 50% thereafter. Perks are the coverage across Europe and all countries bordering the Mediterranean, and a break-down service.

ÖAMTC only insures your bike if you have a shop receipt. So, for your eBay find, ARGUS, a cyclists’ lobby, accepts a value estimate (Schätzung) by any specialist bike store. ARGUS membership is €36 p.a., and the annual insurance premium is 8.8% of the bike’s estimated value (totaling €53,60 for a €200 bike). The Europe-wide policy compensates 100% of a new (or newly estimated) bike’s value for the first year, declining by 10% annually thereafter and freezing at 50% when a bike is older than five years.

Third-party liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) in case of an accident, while usually covered by your household insurance, is also included in the ARGUS membership, along with a generous legal fees coverage (Rechtsschutz), making it the best value for money.

For liability insurance alone, there is an even cheaper - if temporary - alternative: Verkehrsclub Österreich is handing out free coverage for 2012 to cyclists and pedestrians during European Mobility Week, Sept. 16 – 22. Email to, or call (01) 893 2697.

ÖAMTC (many outlets)

1., Schubertring 1–3

(01) 711 99 0


4., Frankenberggasse 11

(01) 50 50 907

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