This Summer: Get Ahead on Two Wheels

In the warm weather, the Viennese side-step cars and long stop-and-go traffic jams, for more flexible & stylish wheels

In the balmy days of June, it’s great to get out and about. Drive over to the Danube, head for a Heuriger, cruise off into the countryside…  Honk! Slam on the breaks: traffic. And it’s getting worse.

Driving in Vienna is a chore, to say the least. Construction sites everywhere, parking at a premium, and rush hour a nightmare for anybody stuck in a car. One could take “public”, but in warm weather, the Öffis acquire a perfume all their own.

So to keep cool and mobile, urban wise guys go for the Mediterranean classic: a scooter. What has long been the standard in other European cities is finally coming into its own in Vienna.

In the warm weather, the street-wise trend-setters take the city by scooter | Photo:APA / Hans Krist / OTS

In the warm weather, the street-wise trend-setters take the city by scooter | Photo:APA / Hans Krist / OTS

 

Why a two-wheeler?

Nothing beats a scooter for beating the traffic. At a red light, you slither through the cars to pole-position, weaving through town ahead of the pack. No parking problems either, and (at least for now) it’s free in Parkpickerl (parking permit) zones.

It’s fun to watch the drivers fume in frustration while the two-wheelers glide past to the light, faces frozen in a seasonal attack of scooter envy. They’re often late, as they circle to find a parking spot, while a scooter pulls in between a set of bike bars and an SUV.

Finally, there’s a spot! As you’re about to exit your steaming vehicle, you realise with horror you’re out of Parkscheine. And of course it’s lunchtime, or past 18:00, or a Saturday afternoon, and there’s never a Trafik close by. Even if you buy a permit on your mobile phone, you often miss the message that the time has run out, and there you are again. Another €36 ticket!

So avoid all that stress. Hop on a scooter.

Pass traffic jams, park in an ever-available small space, avoiding ticket angst, and breathe easy. You arrive relaxed, cool and on time. And face it! Scooters are fun – comfy for the passenger and a great excuse for a little closeness. Hop aboard and let spring fever do the rest.

 

Dangerous driving

Still, let’s be honest. Being on two wheels in the city also has its downsides. “Bikers” must be constantly alert of the dangers of urban traffic. Drivers often pay less attention to smaller vehicles and also underestimate their speed. Two-wheelers must be extra wary of their surroundings and expect to be cut-off by cars and trucks.

But proper training can prevent horror stories. Automobile clubs like ÖAMTC and ARBÖ offer safety training for motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, as well as for cars. Also the police offer classes for driving safety on motorised two-wheelers.

Check ÖAMTC’s and ARBÖ’s websites for courses, dates and locations. VFV Wien, Verein zur Förderung der Verkehrssicherheit in Wien is the police’s training programme for motorised two-wheelers.

To obtain a motorcycle license (A) or 125cc light motorcycle license, Fahrschule am Campus, Fahrschule Karlsplatz, Fahrschule U3ver, Fahrschule Grand, are just a few driving schools to choose from.

Vienna is one of the safest European cities when it comes to traffic accidents. Only 13 per cent of all those who ride a motorbike or motorcycle get injured in traffic. Still, that’s enough, and taking safety precautions is essential, as proper protective gear can prevent major injuries.

The only legal requirement is an E-approved motorcycle helmet. However, wearing gloves, solid shoes and clothes that (at the very least) cover bare skin is a smart move. Your scooter dealership of trust will also offer a variety of safety gear. The first rule of purchasing protective gear is: Stay away from the very inexpensive brands, and make sure everything fits.

Check www.1000ps.at, where you can find used bikes, information on gear, parts, travel info etc, and find dealerships in your neighbourhood. Three good ones are Faber (the place for Scooters), 2-Rad Börse, and BikeCity, all of which carry motorcycle and scooter gear as well.

 

Spoiled for Choice

There is a wide variety of scooters to choose from. Engine sizes range from 50 cubic centimetres (cc) up to 650cc. The 50cc Scooter is a good choice for city traffic. It doesn’t exceed a maximum speed of 50km/h (the city speed limit) and is narrow enough to fit through any gridlock. With a small top box for storage you whizz through Vienna unencumbered.

On faster roads, or for day trips outside of town, a stronger engine will give you a great two-wheeler surge. The +500cc scooters are great for a weekend trip, with a large enough top box for luggage and a spare helmet for a passenger.

Small motor vehicles, below 125cc, require having a regular car driver’s license (B) for at least 5 years and proof of 6-hours of practical training. Above 125cc, a motorcycle license (A) is required. Most driving schools offer both.

A warning: Acquiring an “A” license notoriously gets drivers hooked on motorcycles. Getting out of the city onto winding country roads, feeling the wind whistling past your ears, revelling in the freedom and beauty of the mountain-road – it’s therapy, pure and simple. Concentrating on riding, you forget the stress of the office and the worries of the world beyond. On a motorcycle, the vehicle takes over.

But time enough for that: Scooters are hot right now. These Wise Guys know how to beat the summer heat, slide past the stress and cruise through the city streets they have made their own. With some slick wheels, the envy and frustration can be left behind. Freedom could be parked right outside your door.

 

Safety lessons:

ÖAMTC, www.oeamtc.at

ARBÖ, www.arboe.at

VFV, www.vfv-wien.at

 

Dealerships, Equipment & Fashion 

www.1000ps.at

Faber 

23., Carlbergergasse 66A, www.faber-group.at

2Radbörse 

2., Praterstraße 47, www.2radboerse.at

Bike City

15., Mariahilferstraße 206, bikecity.at 

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