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Why Switzerland is not up to speed on new bike lanes

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why Switzerland is not up to speed on new bike lanes
Some cantons are slow in implementing the law on bicycle lanes. Photo: Pixabay

A number of Swiss cantons are dragging their feet in implementing the legislation on bike lane networks.


The Federal Law on Bicycle Lanes (LVC), which went into effect on January 1st, 2023, aims to make bike paths, as well as riding on them, safer.

To achieve this, cantons are required to provide cycle lane networks on their territories, while the federal government must also do this on national roads.

Plans must be finalised by the end of 2027 and enforced by 2042 at the latest. However, only a handful of cantons are on track, timewise, according to the Swiss Bicycle Advocacy Association (Pro Velo).

“The LVC gives the cantons duties and deadlines to respect,” the group said in a press release. “Some cantons show that they take them seriously, by presenting introductory laws shortly after entry into force. Others are lagging behind.” 

The ‘good’ cantons

Things are moving along swiftly in Schwyz, which adopted its introductory legislation in October 2023.

“The canton thus regulates how it intends to implement the federal law within the stipulated deadline. The law should come into force in the first quarter of 2024,” Pro Velo said.

Glarus authorities have also submitted an introductory law to the cantonal parliament.

Fribourg has adapted its mobility legislation and the related ordinance in line with the LVC as well. The revised law came into force on January 1st, 2023.

The cantons of Bern and Valais have also integrated provisions of the LVC into their cantonal laws, but they still have to be fine-tuned.

Thurgau and Lucerne are moving in the right direction too.

“Pro Velo is certainly pleased that introductory laws are already present in some cantons and that others have made or plan to make legislative adaptations,” said Délphine Klopfenstein,  the organisation’s vice-president.

“However, the vast majority of cantons have made little or no change,” she added. “The deadline for planning cycle path networks expires in four years already; I expect the cantons to act decisively.”


‘Quality cycling infrastructure’

Despite the slowness in implementing the LVC in some regions, overall, Switzerland has an extensive network of designated bike paths.

In fact, Bern is among the top-10 cities in Europe in terms of “bike-friendliness,” as one international study indicates.

“The Swiss capital has invested a lot in quality cycling infrastructure, scores particularly high on bike sharing, and regularly organises ‘no car days’, according to the Global Bicycle Cities Index.

Other major Swiss cities, such as Zurich and Bern, are also bike-friendly.

READ ALSO: What you can and can't do on a bicycle in Switzerland


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