Walking as solution to traffic jams and pollution in big cities – How has Vienna motivated people to take up the healthiest and cheapest form of transport?

Source: eKapija Wednesday, 08.05.2024. 09:47
Illustration (Photo: eakkaluktemwanich/shutterstock.com)Illustration
A decade ago, Vienna, like other European cities, struggled with traffic jams and parking. This problem is not fully solved now either, but with the founding of the Mobility Agency of the City of Vienna, walking and cycling have gained in importance. Now, each third trip in the city center is done by – walking. In addition to being healthy and the cheapest, this form of transport also helps achieve the city’s climate goals, which is for car driving in Vienna to be reduced from the current 26% to 20%.

– I have been doing this for 11 years now and I can say that something has changed in people’s thinking. Before, people would ask how many parking spaces they would lose, and now they are asking how many new trees they will get. Compared to other forms of transport, walking is cheap, it is the cheapest form of transport, but nobody is used to investing in it. If we take into account that there is no transport without walking, we will see that walking is in fact in the basis of our traffic system and that it is worth investing in – says the city commissioner of the Mobility Agency of the City of Vienna, Petra Jens.

Each year, the behavior and the choice of transport of the citizens of Vienna are measures, and walking and cycling are increasingly present in the past years.

Since three years ago, there has been a national walking master plan in Austria too.

– The national master plan describes how the state supports local self-governments by improving the infrastructure and the pedestrian zones. If local self-governments want to apply for federal funds, they have to create their own master plans and strategies – Jens says.

How to motivate people to do something that they take for granted?

According to her, it all begins with communication and good marketing. She adds that, if you can convince people and the decision-makers that walking is an important topic for cities, municipalities and the entire traffic system, you have already made an important first step.

Walking is like breathing, we don’t think about breathing, but it is necessary for our existence. That is why we are trying to make walking glamorous, interesting in various ways. We have created pedestrian tours with guides through Vienna, we offer free coffee and invite people to discover their own city. There is a free app through which people can count their steps and get vouchers for them for some small rewards. We inform our citizens about the new pedestrian infrastructure, projects, about how many new trees they will get, how much nice street furniture – said Petra Jens.

The article was created within the “Pulse of Europe” project which is financed by the European Union in Serbia.

I. Zikic

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