Swiss citizens voted for more cycleways in a national vote on Sunday. Unlike the UK which practices representative democracy – with MPs representing constituents but not bound to follow their every whim – Switzerland practices direct democracy, with national and local voting on major issues. There are usually four or five such referendums each year, and the latest one was on whether to enshrine the building of cycleways in the Swiss constitution.
This referendum was won by the cycleways camp, with 74 percent of those who voted being in favour of the building of more cycling infrastructure. (Turnout was 37 percent.) The onus for building such cycleways is on regional cantons, not the national government.
Transport minister Doris Leuthard welcomed the result and said it showed the potential of cycling to relieve growing pressures on overcrowded public buses and trains, while also helping to limit toxic exhaust emissions, reported SwissInfo.
She also mentioned the issue of safety, a key campaign topic in the lead-up to the vote, as being important. Of all forms of transport, biking is the only one becoming statistically less safe, with rising numbers of deaths and injuries each year.
Social Democrat Party politician Matthias Aebischer – and president of the Pro Velo cycling lobby group – told Swiss public radio he was "astonished" by the scale of the support for the cycleways referendum saying it showed that even non-cyclists backed the change.