While developing and approving new urban mobility plan, the Austrian capital city has set an ambitious goal: to increase volume of pedestrian movement in the city. Which measures they have taken and whether they are successful – find in this article
Inciting residents to walking is in the best interests of the city. It should provide for necessary infrastructure in the broad sense, as this is about more than pavements, – persisted Petra Jens, a representative of the Vienna’s Mobility Agency on pedestrian and bicycle communication, during the Urban Future conference. Last year in the Austrian capital city, the percentage of walking trips first exceeded the amount of car trips.
Petra has been holding her post for 5 years already. – We aim at increasing the share of trips around the city on sustainable transport modes by 80%. Only 20% should take place with use of cars. However, when we started, the situation did not look promising: in 2013 the walking share was in decrease.
– The pedestrians were discriminated in many ways. Pavements were too narrow. I started reflecting on the ways of improving walking conditions and encouraging people to walk more, – says Jens. People from the city council were discussing infrastructure for walking with the pedestrians, asking them on the problems in this sphere. The respondents always mentioned two subjects: pedestrian crossings on zero level and traffic lights. The traffic lights, located in the right place, can, on the one hand, enhance safety, and on the other – the pedestrian phase of red lights is most always too long, and the green one is too short.
Some residents of the Austrian capital felt themselves uncomfortable during walking for bigger distances and on greater scale due to the fear to fall a victim of an accident. In the activities, directed on increase of safety of the least protected street users, the successful solution was expansion of pavements on street corners. Due to these, the passengers, waiting to cross the crossroad, have more space to themselves, as well as feel more safety. Among the activities, held by the city, we should also mention the elevated pedestrian crossings, numerous sections with 30 km/h speed limit, elevated stops (roadway is on the same level as pavement by the tram line) called “Viennese”.
However, the pedestrian infrastructure is more than pavements, crossings and traffic lights. – There are also benches, trees, fountains and other elements that make the life in the urban environment pleasant. These are also indicators and other navigation that will help you reaching your destination. Walking may also be encouraged by availability of barrier-free WCs, – stresses the representative of Viennese authorities, – or accessible “sources” in drinking fountains.
One of the most interesting ideas of the capital city’s authorities was marking the urban shortenings, showing pedestrians the gates and the yards where they can go to shorten their way. This allows the residents to use even more space for motion. Currently, in Vienna there are about 700 of such back streets.
According to researches, cited by Jens, the most popular reasons for walking are shopping and recreation. Therefore, there is a connection between the degree of city’s adaptation to the pedestrians’ needs and the state of local trade and services, and thus – urban thriving. However, the problem to be solved yet is a cargo transport beneath the store or the house. In our time, the non-motorized client relies on use of taxi or cargo bicycle. – In spite of development of new technologies in transport there are no innovations that would ease the pedestrians’ life with account of this issue, – admits Jens.
The policy of encouraging pedestrian movement has a material impact on the Austrian capital city. – In 2017, 28% of trips over the city took place on foot. It was first time that this percent exceeded movement by cars, – says the official. However, there are a lot to do to achieve the desired modal structure of movement. According to the official data, last year 39% of the Viennese used public transport (increase by one percent if compared to the previous survey in 2014), 7% preferred bicycles (unchanged) and in 27% of cases they used the car (decrease by one percent).
Used materials from Transport publiczny