Category Archives: Environment

Winter takes a short break (or a melt in the park)


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December 26, 2012 · 4:25 pm

Should Vienna host the 2028 Summer Olympics?


The government of Vienna is to hold a consultative referendum in March 2013 and one of the four questions concerns the Summer Olympics.

The question of a bid to host the Summer Olympics of 2028 is one of four questions to be put to residents by the City State government of Vienna. If you lived in Vienna how would you vote? Would the Olympic Games held here, in the heart of Europe, encourage you to visit this wonderful city?

While the Games may be the most ‘sexy’ of the four questions, the one that is likely to continue to cause the greatest debate will be the matter of the short-term parking scheme that has already been extended to a number of outer districts. While the recent changes have lead to more on street parking spaces in the districts concerned (residents have to pay for a parking permit & commuters are discouraged by the high cost of short-term parking) neighbouring districts, without the scheme, have suffered from increased pressure on street parking.

Interestingly the question isn’t a straight one of ‘Are you for or against the scheme?’ Instead Vienna residents will be asked ‘How is the parking situation and quality of life for Districts residents to be improved?’

A)     Parking regulations should be established for each district.

B)      There should be a solution for individual districts (with regard to the neighbouring districts).

Thus the Red/Green (Social Democrat/Green Party) coalition avoids being challenged directly on the existing expansion of the scheme and instead asks voters to support a citywide expansion or the new status quo. Personally, I think there are merits for Vienna in the parking scheme but the coalition appears to be cautious in defending/promoting its policy. Based upon reports I’ve read and the reality I’ve seen on the streets, the value of the scheme has yet to be either confirmed or refuted, which may explain the question (and inclusion of other questions) in the referendum.

The scheme:

  1. It is now easier to park in districts with the newly introduced scheme and a nightmare in neighbouring districts.
  2. There has been a lot of criticism from the State of Lower Austria, which geographically surrounds Vienna, many of whose citizens commute into the city.
  3. Lower Austria has talked about Vienna based businesses now wanting to relocate because of the impact of the parking scheme.
  4. The expansion of the parking scheme has added to Vienna State income at a time when the City’s government is investing heavily in improving the public transport infrastructure.
  5. Parking/traffic was already one of the biggest concerns in Vienna before the expansion of the scheme.
  6. In the first month or so of the schemes expansion the level of traffic using the motorways into Vienna did not drop significantly (something that would be a negative if the pattern remains unchanged over time).

The remaining questions, one asks people if the services of water, sewage, refuge collection, energy, hospitals, public transport, should be protected from privatisation. The other seeks support for expansion of social/domestic solar power projects.

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Filed under Environment, Transport, Vienna Life

Top city in a great country….and don’t forget the wine – happy National Day


A UN study, reported here in Die Presse.com, has ranked Vienna as the most prosperous city in the world. Just behind are the cities of New York, Toronto, and London. The study which considered productivity, quality of life, infrastructure and sustainability, placed seven European cities in the top ten.

Another study, here in der Standard.at, highlights that a majority of Austrians are proud of their country. An interesting aspect of the survey is that supporters of the governing coalition (SPÖ – Social Democrats and ÖVP – conservatives) tend to be happier with the country than supports of the FPÖ (Far-Right) or Team Stronach (right of centre). Green Party supports tend to be more cautious of the whole ‘national pride’ concept.

I rather like the answers in the survey regarding which stereotypes and professions represent Austria. Top of the list is the countries winemakers.

I wish you all a happy Austria National Day from the world’s number 1 city, in a country of (mostly) happier citizens, deep within the EU & the Eurozone 🙂

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Environment, Living in Austria, Vienna Life

“This is good news for tourists but the kiss of death for the glaciers…”


The quote above by Bernhard Niedermoser, of the Austrian Central Institute for Climate Research and Geodynamics (ZAMG), is reported here in the Austrian Times as part of a short article on a new report looking at the impact of climate change in this part of Europe over the next 50 to 100 years.

If their analysis is correct the Alps are going to get hotter springs and summers with more sun and less rain. The good news for the winter tourism industry (or at least those operating on the higher resorts) is that winters will bring higher levels of snow. This last item is of particular interest as previous reports I’ve seen has suggested that the Alp would see less snow – our understanding of climate changing is developing all the time.

What remains consistent in the report is that despite the increased snow the Alpine glaciers, which play an important role in the supply of water across central Europe, are in trouble. To complete Bernhard Niedermoser quote in my headline “….because it is the summer that controls their fate, it doesn’t matter how much snow falls, it is always the summer that is crucial.”

A few images from the Dachstein glacier:

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, Green, Vienna Life

Standing room only, a sign of success!


I recently wrote about the success of the new public transport pricing scheme here in Vienna. Well it would appear from this report in the Austrian Times that it’s going to leave me standing and oddly I think that’s rather good news

To recap, in May the Red/Green State coalition government reduced the price of the annual pass from 449 Euro to 365 Euro. In addition they reduced the cost of a monthly ticket from 49.50 to 45 Euro, while increasing the weekly and day ticket prices. This leaves Vienna as one of the cheapest cities in Europe for traveling on what is one of the best public transport systems on the continent.

As an annual pass holder I am ever happy with this development but also as a resident of the city I benefit from the environmental gains achieved as more people take to public transport. With the increase of passengers using the integrated tram, bus and train system Wiener Linien (Transport Company) are having to find new ways to cope with these greater numbers. One solution is to be piloted on my local tramline, the No43. Some seats are to be removed to allow more standing room, as well as additional space for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

So will having to stand at peak times annoy me? Frankly the answer is no. To be honest we have an excellent system, well priced and the trams, buses and trains turn up on time. Standing on the tram occasionally is a small price to pay and it’s hardly London sardine hell round here.

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Environment, Green, Politics, Transport, Vienna Life

Looks like a winner for the Red/Green government


The equivalent to just over a quarter of Vienna’s citizens have bought an annual ticket for travel on the city’s public transport system. I wonder how that compares to other major cities around the world?

I’ve just been reading a report in the Austrian Times  that since May 2012 there are over 70,000 new pass holders, bringing the total up to a record breaking 450,000 people with an annual travel pass (myself included). The increase is linked to the decision of the red/green coalition, which runs Vienna State government, to reduce the ticket price from 449 Euro to 365 Euro. They also reduced the cost of a monthly ticket from 49.50 to 45 Euro, while increasing the weekly and day ticket prices. Additionally fines for fare dodgers were increased from 70 to 100 Euro’s and if it’s not my imagination the number of ticket checks have gone up.

As only 5% of all passengers prior to the changes opted for day tickets it is likely that the increase in annual passes brought will be reflected in the overall numbers using the system.

I’ve read various claims that Vienna’s fares are amongst the lowest in Europe with the average cost being in the region of 660 Euro.

The increasing numbers would appear to be a political win for the City’s red/green coalition. Particularly the Greens as the policy is seen as a direct consequence of their involvement in the State Government. More widely, any shift away from car usage (if this is indeed a consequence of this policy) in the city would be a welcome aid to efforts to tackle air quality and parking problems. Both issues that detract from a otherwise high quality of life that regularly puts Vienna in the top three ‘cities in the world to live’.

The City’s integrated transport system is view as one of the best in the world. The State Government is investing 475 million Euros this year, with total investment in transport infrastructure planned to reach 2.4 billion Euros by 2015.

 

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Environment, Green, Politics, Transport, Vienna Life

A playground for young and old in summer or winter


Back in February I blogged about my day around the Old Danube area of Vienna, enjoying the chance to walk on the frozen waters and watching others ice skating, skiing, practicing ice hockey and generally making the most of this outdoor winter playground.

On Sunday, with the sun shining down on a glorious Viennese day, I was back once again to take pleasure in some of the summer fun available in Vienna’s water world.

One advantage of this area is that there is a good scattering of restaurant around the water’s edge and our first port of call was Zur Alten Kaisermühle….

A lovely place to sit on a sunny afternoon, you can relax while in the distance watching others swimming, sailing, fishing, boating and generally mucking about on the water. Helpful, friendly staff added to the agreeable environment. Alas if you are a vegetarian (such as me) then the menu is very limited, however the meat eaters in my party reported that the flesh was good…..

After lunch we took as stroll. Whether from the water’s edge or from the vantage point of a bridge it was easy to see the attraction of the water’s to anglers, they are simply teeming with fish….

There are a variety of options for spending time on the water but on this occasion we decided to hire a paddle boat, which in the hot sun turned out to be a little more energetic than expected but great entertainment for my nine year old daughter.

Our journey by paddle boat was not without some delay and obstruction when one of the local swans decided to investigate our craft and refused to allow us to pass….

Some parts of the water’s edge provide open access to the public. Others are occupied by boating or swimming areas, as well as restaurants and other facilities. But also occupying space around the Old Danube are small houses with petite gardens and/or piers for mooring boats…….

The lure of the paddle boat was not for everyone last Sunday but luckily on the Old Danube there are a wide range of options….

As we departed I was reminded that further down this waterway I had watched dragon boat racing last June – something I included in this blog post

Useful link: http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/green-vienna/summer-at-old-danube

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Filed under Activities for kids, Environment, Sports, Vienna Life, Wine, Beer & Food