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The mountain bike in federal law. And now?

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In the 2022 spring session, parliament passed the new cycle path law. Now it's up to the cantons to find appropriate solutions - and to take care of mountain biking. What does that mean?

Cycle route networks are coherent and continuous transport connections for cyclists with the corresponding infrastructures.

Cycle Route Law, SR725.41

The law in a nutshell

The cantons must ensure that plans for cycle path networks for everyday and leisure use are drawn up and that these are periodically reviewed and adapted. Existing and planned cycle path networks must be transferred to the plans.

 

Everyday bikeway networks provide access to residential areas, workplaces, schools, public transportation, shopping stores, and other facilities of public interest.

 

Recreational bikeway networks include appropriately connected roads, bike paths, trails, and signalized bike and mountain bike routes and similar infrastructure, and provide access to beautiful landscapes, points of interest, public transit stops, and tourism-related infrastructure.

 

Cycle route networks also include corresponding infrastructure. This includes, for example, parking facilities, information platforms or possibly even washing stations and the like.

 

The cycle path networks must:

… be coherent and continuous and include the important places (see above)

… have an appropriate density and direct routing

… be as safe as possible and as separate as possible from motorized traffic and pedestrian traffic

… be homogeneously developed

… be attractive and (especially in the case of leisure networks) have a high recreational quality

… be maintained

… be replaced if necessary (replacement in the event of removal).

Mountain biking is explicitly mentioned in the text of the law. Thus, cantons are obliged to ensure that there are attractive and high-quality, coherent, continuous, sufficient, safe and homogeneously developed mountain bike infrastructures.

 

A balancing of interests applies to the planning principles. For mountain bike infrastructures, “direct connections” and “high recreational quality” are often mutually exclusive. Likewise, it will hardly make sense to completely separate pedestrian traffic and mountain bike infrastructure. 

The cantons must ensure that plans for cycle path networks for everyday use and leisure are drawn up in a manner that is binding on the authorities and that these plans are periodically reviewed and adapted. Existing and planned cycle path networks must be transferred to the plans.

 

– Cantons must establish a procedure for creating and amending these plans and define the other legal effects

 

– They can delegate this work to the municipalities

– Plans are to be drawn up with public participation

 

Cantons are required to plan a network of cycle paths in a manner that is binding on the authorities within five years of entry into force and to implement this network no later than 20 years after entry into force.

 

If different authorities are responsible for cycle paths, they must coordinate their work and coordinate it with other spatially effective tasks across authorities. 

 

Cantons should designate a specialized office for bikeways. This can also be outsourced to private offices or associations. Cantons can also designate municipalities, which must designate their own specialized agencies.

Our Assessment

Some cantons already comply with all or most of the requirements of the Veloweggesetz. Other cantons are now faced with the task of devoting more time and resources to the topic of cycling (and mountain biking). The cantons of Aargau and Lucerne have already reacted and created corresponding positions.

 

We believe that slow traffic, cycling and mountain biking are very much a cross-sectional issue. The question of which cantonal authority should formally deal with this topic is not easy to answer. Some things speak for the spatial planning, others for the forestry authority and again others for the civil engineering office. The topic even concerns the promotion of the economy and the location.

 

The law prescribes some things, but also leaves room for balancing interests in the implementation. 

And now?

Now the cantons must take action. The law is expected to come into force in 2023 – and then the clock is ticking. There are 5 years left to define responsibilities and processes and to plan the cycle path networks.

How Bikeplan can help?

At Bikeplan we have almost 10 years of experience with the development of mountain bike and velo infrastructures on different levels. We work conceptually, but are also active in the implementation.

We already manage the mountain biking We develop the technical bases in the mandate, take care of the regional concerns and present decision bases.

 

With our master plans, we lead a process that develops bike- and veto-specific development strategies regionally to cantonally on the basis of an evidence-based inventory analysis and participatory needs assessment. In the process, we also help to clarify and define responsibilities and interfaces between offices and with the outside world.

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