Josefstadt towards WALK21 policy!

The district council of the Josefstadt committed unison to the Walk 21 Charter - as the first district in Vienna! The step towards a walking-friendly district was initiated by a citizen-driven pilot-project of the Local Agenda 21 process, that aims to raise awareness for the needs of pedestrians and to highlight the potentials of the small-scale structured district as a walking-friendly area.

Christian Schrefel, Vienna, Austria

Due to its small-scale structure, the Vienna Josefstadt (8th district) offers ideal distances for pedestrians. Nevertheless, the common transport planning primarily considers the motorized traffic so that pedestrians are literally pushed to the edge. Narrow pavements, missing crossings possibilities, long red and far too short green phases for pedestrians, as well as an often uninspired use of public space do not invite people to choose to walk.

In the year 2013, within the framework of the Local Agenda 21-process in the Josefstadt and in agreement with the local politicians, the Agenda 21-office initialized a two-year pilot process focusing on „Walking“ and launched a platform for the implementation of actions towards a new walking-culture in the district.
The participants of the “Walking in the Josefstadt – Platform” searched for substantial improvements, that support people to choose to walk and summarized the findings in the “Vision 2034 – Walking Culture in the Josefstadt”.
The brochure, which includes a catalogue of measures to make the vision a reality within the next 20 years, was presented at a public event and was handed over to the political representatives of the district.
This event as well as three previous walking tours and discussions with inhabitants, politicians and experts could increase the political awareness significantly, so that an essential requirement of the catalogue, namely the adoption of the Walk 21 policy, could be achieved already in June 2014, when the district council committed unison to the international Walk 21 Charter - as the first district in Vienna!

The "Vision 2034” considers walking as a key indicator for the planning of road space, for the allocation of resources and for the distribution of public space. Additional space for pedestrians can be made available in the Josefstadt only at the expense of parked cars – that’s why the vision includes an ambitious target: A reduction of 100 car-parking-sites per year! This results in 20.000 m² new public spaces in 20 years, which can be used for wider sidewalks, attractive pedestrian areas, micro spaces and square designs. This area corresponds to the current range of public green areas in the district and thereby will be doubled in 20 years!

The path is still long, of course, but the “Vision 2034” and the adoption of the Walk 21 Charter gave already some essential and fruitful impulses to implement a new quality of walking, that will be enjoyed by all people in the district.

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