To improve urban spaces and make cities more enjoyable, citizens need to be empowered to change their own environment. The first step in this process is to explore and define what we, the inhabitants of our cities, are lacking.
During the CITYx conference, we asked YOU what is missing in the city. Attendees wrote down their ideas on our posters and after collecting all suggestions, we noticed that they fall into several categories; politics, transportation, food and shopping, personal attitudes and activities. In this blog post, we want to summarize and explore some a little bit further. If you miss anything in Vienna or know of any places that the CITYx attendees called for, please let us know in the comments section.
Transportation – a wish for sustainability and flexibility
Our first realization is that the CITYx participants are, or would like to be, very environmental friendly! Even though Vienna repeatedly has been classified as one of Europe’s smartest cities, our attendees are still missing more and better green transportation options here. They want to introduce kick-scooters for sharing (similar to the Citybike initiative) and weather protected (electric) bikes. In contrast to regular bikes, only a few places in Vienna offer e-bike rental, but in neither case with weather protection. Thus, rental of TrikEs might be an interesting addition to Vienna?
Along these lines, also a better bike infrastructure appeared on the wish list. This includes increasing the number of bike lanes and accessible bikes – the latter could be addressed by expanding the Viennese Citybike initiative. With only 120 stations throughout Vienna, bike-sharing has not reached its full potential nor captured the hearts of the locals – which it has in many other cities, such as Paris. Home to the world’s biggest bike-sharing organization Vélib, Paris has over 20000 bikes and 1800 bike stations located every 300m, including at every subway station. Due to the abundance, it provides a great and very affordable alternative way of transportation that is functional for both tourists and locals.
Further wishes from the CITYx attendees included free public transportation, a closed Ringstrasse and a total car ban in Vienna. While forbidding all cars might be a very drastic measure, car-sharing alternatives already helped to reduce their number. Vienna has attracted several car-sharing companies including zipcar car2go and DriveNow. Although certain cities in the US and Europe have introduced electric car sharing vehicles, they are yet to come to Vienna. So far, such cars can only be rented in traditional ways.
Food & shopping – the more the merrier!
What dominated the food & shopping category was the wish for longer opening hours. With stores closing between 19.30 and 20 on weekdays, 18 on Saturdays and staying closed on Sundays, even grocery shopping becomes a struggle.
Other ideas falling into the food category include the introduction of a non-smoking law. While many countries have banned smoking indoors at cafes, restaurants or bars, Vienna hasn’t yet but it’s scheduled for 2018. Speaking of restaurants, people also wanted more out-door seating in restaurants. Even though Vienna does have some summer city oases (including the Donaukanal, Rathausplatz and Summerstage), nice restaurants with gardens are often hidden away and can be hard to find. The TEDxVienna bloggers encountered one such hidden gem while exploring Vienna’s 3rd district.
If you feel like tasting Asian flavors, the area around Naschmarkt offers a selection of Asian supermarkets and restaurants. Nevertheless, the CITYx attendees still crave for more Asian food stands and especially more Thai food places (although a quick search on yelp lists quite some thai food options in Vienna). Maybe Vienna should introduce authentic Asian street food stands next to the traditional Würstelstände? Apropos Würstelstand, the alike named website has a great blog on hip restaurants, ranging from a china bar, Vienna’s oldest Würstelstand to vegan sushi. Dining out in Vienna is pretty affordable. Still the CITYx attendees also longed for restaurant Happy hours with food for 10 euro, inspired by Italian ways.
As specific dietary requirements are gaining in popularity, easier access to alternatives was also desired. One such example is more gluten free snacks and food, which are not always so easy to locate. The Coeliac Youth of Europe (CYE) lists some supermarkets in Vienna, which sell gluten free food, as well as Austrian dishes that usually are prepared gluten free. Check it out before your next restaurant dinner! Additionally, it could be worth paying a visit to Café Hummel, Bäckeri Grimm and Bröselei for gluten and lactose free food. Those more interested in beer can find it gluten free in Schweizerhaus in Prater.
Personal attitudes – the Viennese charm!
Some of the other wishes related more to personal attitudes. Especially in Vienna, renowned for its Viennese “charm”, who hasn’t experienced a grumpy person on their way to work? With the stereotype of the cranky Viennese person in mind, the CITYx participants requested friendlier waiters, more child-friendly shop assistants and more smiling and open-minded people. Also love, peace, tolerance and free hugs where all asked for. So next time that you’re out and about, just look around and give somebody a smile – after all it doesn’t cost you anything, but can sweeten someone else’s day. And maybe one step at a time, together we can all bring about some of the changes that we wish for.
Header image credits royalty free, Images 1,2 and 3 (Monika Abramczuk)