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Vienna ride with Mimi

By Adam Marsal

Do you consider coming to Vienna with your bike? There’s no one better to be your guide than Miriam Kathrein. Friends call her Mimi. She started cycling five years ago, but since then she’s got a big story behind her.

She’s a founding member of Le Rouleur Lent cycling movement, she organizes group rides (not only) for cycling women, she is a Rapha Ambassador and RCC Member and she is involved in a lot of Rapha specific events. She talks about cycling in the Austrian capital city, about its car drivers, road network and she gives out some very special hints for the cycling visitors.

What if I want to come to Wien as a foreigner and I want go experience a ride with locals?

There are great people to meet and ride with in Vienna, and for a year now there are a lot of possibilities to go on group rides. Vienna has great surroundings – more hills than serious mountain routes, but still beautiful landscapes.

Obviously, when you are in Vienna you want to get in touch with LRL and we are happy to show you awesome routes and ride with you. But you also need to check out the regular rides of our friend Joshua Hayes, who is running the Veletage bike shop – fast paced morning rides every Tuesday and Thursday, and his more casual SundayFunday Rides, which I also try to make as often as possible. And there is the VICC-Vienna International Cycling Club led by Stuart Marven, where you can find lots and lots of possibilities to meet people who’ll show you good roads in and around Vienna.

How much popular is road cycling in Austria these days? Do you think the times are changing? Do you see more cyclists in the streets?

Yes, it changed a lot. There are more and more people getting into road-biking. It’s really awesome to see that.

Do you consider Vienna as biking friendly city? Write me some details why or why not.

Vienna is a city with a very good public transport. I think our politicians have the idea that if you don’t own or drive a car you should use public transport rather than a bike. That’s probably why the concept of commuting by bike is not understood very well.

The priorities are clearly stated – car first, then public transport followed by pedestrians and bikes have the last place. Still what changed is that the bike infrastructure is growing since the last ten years. But more often it is an afterthought rather than good urban planning. That sucks but there’s hope. We are definitely better off than some other cities, but we are far from being like Copenhagen or any Dutch city.

How are the Austrian drivers? Are they respectful to the cyclists?

Not really. They are quite aggressive – probably because they are mostly uneducated and have no idea about traffic rules, what cyclists are allowed to do or not, like riding next to each other in groups while out training. I experienced a lot of dangerous situations. I have the suspicion that most drivers aren’t aware of the fact that they actually could kill someone. That said there are also nice ones who drive very considerately.

Are there any other clubs in Wien? Are you cooperating or rather fighting each other?

There is a lot of competition – but it’s friendly competition. We have for example  Format RC, Radcore, BBURD, or VICC. Each club has its niche, so you can’t really compare them with each other.

Can you recommend me some special places somehow connected with Vienna’s cycling community? 

ZÅMM is a great coffee place owned by Max(imilian Huber), who is a designer and a dedicated cyclist himself. There is the Veletage, a boutique like bike shop, managed by the great Joshua Hayes. You can check out Citybiker and Roadbiker, good bike shops with friendly staff and maybe Radlager, another coffee place, where you can also find vintage road bikes.