Vienna Shows How Cities Don't Have to Cater to Cars

credit: Lloyd Alter

What can one say about a city that has pedestrian signals like this? Perhaps that it likes people walking on its streets. I have never been in a city that was so pedestrian friendly, that paid so much attention to people who are not in metal boxes, whether they are walking, biking or taking transit. There are so many things to learn.

credit: Lloyd Alter

It is not perfect; I found some of the bike lanes too narrow, people had to go into the road to pass me. It is separated from the car lane by a small change in elevation, splitting the difference between the sidewalk and the road. But I never saw a car parked on it.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Sometimes it is just paint, and can get confusing. I was walking here and could not quite figure out how to get to the corner without crossing the bike lane.

credit: Lloyd Alter

There is every kind of bike lane, from car-separated ones like this...

credit: Lloyd Alter

To really terrible door zone painted lanes like this.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Heading out to the suburbs, the lanes get wider, but there was a lot of riding in the pedestrian side of the streak of paint. But it's wide enough and people seem to be pretty respectful of pedestrians.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Even in the new suburb of Seestadt, they had painted lanes, although the parked cars have a bit of room. It is still not as good as a properly separated lane. The car is not parked in the bike lane, but is parallel parking into a space beside it; I never saw a car blocking a bike lane, ever.

credit: Lloyd Alter

This was wonderful; a bike lane has been slung under the bridge across the Danube, and this spiral ramp gets you up to it. I thought it would be difficult but it was just at the right slope that one could climb right up it without too much trouble. In a 30 kilometer bike tour of passivhaus buildings I doubt there were more than 2km without a bike lane of some form.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Walkers have it pretty good too, with great consideration of people with vision issues; those three stripes are raised tiles that you can feel underfoot. This is on many sidewalks and at every intersection.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Fewer worries about getting squished under the rear wheels of trucks either; every truck on the road has sideguards, either engineered into the vehicle like this Mercedes or added on.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Transit users have many options; streetcars or trams are everywhere, an extensive network using new equipment like this or older, two car setups.

credit: Lloyd Alter

The subway system is also fantastic, with lines pushed out to all the new communities. Most of the trains are newer, open gangway designs where you can walk from end to end. However they are surprisingly narrow and crowded inside, with poles right in the centre. It doesn't take many people to make it impossible to move through it. There are no turnstiles or ticket takers; it is all done on the honour system. A 48 hour ticket costs 13 euros and you just walk on or off any tram or subway, totally painless. I never saw a fare inspector. I have no doubt that some people cheat and ride for free, but on the other hand, they need a lot fewer employees.

credit: Lloyd Alter

I also never saw a bike or a pedestrian go through a red light, even late at night when there were no cars in sight, and only heard a car honk once in four days. It was all so organized and well behaved. Really, it was like a dream.

Immediately upon returning to Toronto I had to get on my bike and ride downtown, almost got clipped by a mirror and was forced into the streetcar tracks by construction. I was back on a continent where pedestrians and cyclists are really second class citizens. We have so much to learn.