We Bike prototype

Last week I participated in the Velopolis 2025: How mobile are urban societies in the future? workshop at Vienna’s MAK museum. The workshop was sponsored by the MAK and Vienna’s Departure Program. It was led by Sandra Y. Richter from the MIT Media Lab. On the first day we focused on developing scenarios for the future of urban bike transport. It was a fun and interesting way to think about the future in a structured way.

On Friday we broke into three groups and developed bike products for the future. Our group decided to develop a sort of social network for bicyclists called “We Bike”. The idea was to develop some sorts of clothing or patches that people could wear to show that they were open to being approached – in the real world – for conversation and potentially to serve as tour guides to their city. The idea also included apps and new media, but the main idea was focusing on real world connections. The video we developed is at the top of the post. (Our group: Corinna Danninger, Manuel Weilguny, Oskar V. Hanstein and me.)

The other two groups focused on developing products. One developed a cool picnic basket/seat/cargo container and the other developed a concept for using compressed air to keep you dry when riding in the rain … I wish I had that for my ride today.

It was a neat event both because we worked on bicycle ideas and because we learned some of the prototyping techniques used at the MIT Media Lab.

Vienna public involvement in transport app development

Meine Radspur Application Vienna Austria

meine-radspur is a GIS app developed in Vienna that tracks the routes used by bicyclists. Riders can indicate hazards and places that need improvements later.

I’m organising a roundtable discussion on using social applications (social networks, crowd sourced reporting, online games, wikis, and other tools) for helping improve sustainable transport.

We’ll start by identifying existing applications and then brainstorm ideas for Vienna (and beyond). If there’s interest we’ll organise a group to develop a real application or two. If you have questions or good examples to include in the presentation please contact me (andy@andynash.com).

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 … 18:30 – 20:30
Where: The Impact HUB Vienna, Lindengasse 56, 1070 Vienna

Please register here (free): https://sustainabletransportslot.eventbrite.com/

Good biking requires good traffic engineering

The intersection of Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Franz-Josefs-Quai in Vienna is a good example of where the streets prioritise movement of automobiles over pedestrians and bikes.

The intersection of Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Franz-Josefs-Quai in Vienna is a good example of where the streets prioritise movement of automobiles over pedestrians and bikes.

Vienna’s working hard on making the city better for biking and walking, but it’s a difficult job. There are many places, like the intersection above, where the streets and traffic signals have been designed to move traffic, bikes and pedestrians are accommodated, but not a priority. This is a situation that needs to change if the city is to be successful at making transport more sustainable and the city more liveable.

Many streets and intersections in Vienna need to be rebuilt to improve conditions for pedestrians and bikes – but this often comes at the expense of automobile traffic. That’s too bad, but the priority today must be given to pedestrians and bikes if we are to create more sustainable cities. And, the evidence from many cities is that reducing automobile traffic doesn’t hurt the economy, in fact building better bike lanes and sidewalks can actually increase business.

Making these kinds of improvements requires two things: desire and design. City transport departments must want to go from moving cars to moving people and they need good designers who understand the fine points of traffic engineering. The intersection shown above is a good example: it’s a very complicated intersection: two very busy one-way streets with a two-way tram line turning across the intersection. The traffic engineers have done a good job for cars and trams, but it’s not so good for bikes and pedestrians who have to cross between several islands with different traffic signals. Also important to note is that the intersection is on path between the Ringstrasse bike lane and the Donau Canal bike lane, so its used by many bikers.

It’s a complex problem that can’t be easily solved. But improving these types of intersections to be more bike-friendly will be critical if Vienna is to meet its goal of increasing bike use.

Burgenland Austria bike tour

Frauenkirchen Church in Frauenkirchen, Burgenland Austria, August 2013.

Frauenkirchen Church in Frauenkirchen, Burgenland Austria, August 2013.

On Saturday I took my bike on the train to Gols in Burgenland (Austria). My goal was to combine a visit to Judith Beck Vineyards with some exercise on a beautiful end of summer day.

Saturday was Pannobile Day 2013 (German) in Gols. It’s organized by a group of 11 (opps!) 9 winemakers around Gols to celebrate the new year of Pannobile wine (they make a single red and/or white wine that they call Pannobile from a blend of grapes). The winemakers then work together on marketing etc. The name Pannobile comes from the Roman name for the area.

On Pannobile Day all the wineries are open for tasting and there is a big dinner party in the evening. Since I was on my bike I decided it would be best to only taste one and not stay for dinner (maybe next year I’ll stay overnight and go!).

I tasted three wines from Judith Beck Winery just on the outskirts of Gols. I chose her wine because I’d enjoyed it before and it’s organic. She has a beautiful winery building and tasting room. The people were quite friendly and there was nice food to nibble on. I tried a white, the Pannobile 2011 and the Pinot Noir. They were all very nice, but since I was on my bike I only took one bottle (the Pannobile naturally!).

Regional train from Burgenland at Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main train station), August 2013.

Regional train from Burgenland at Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main train station), August 2013.

The bike ride was great too. Although it’s a little hard to get to the Vienna Hauptbahnhof railway station by bike (there are very few direct routes with good bike paths right now). However the station is just being completed so hopefully this will change. The Austrian National Railways (OBB) has a nice feature on its travel planning software that allows you to select only trains where you can take your bike on board. You can take a bike on most of the local and regional trains. However, there was not very much space on this beautiful day for bikes, so my advice would be to get their early. You don’t need to pay extra to take a bike on these trains either, nice!

I took the train to Gols. There I followed Burgenland bike route B-23 (the Culture Bikeway). It goes through the vineyards to a small city called Frauenkirchen (named after a large baroque church in the town). The church was a pilgrimage church in the middle ages and there are several historic buildings around it including what looks like an old cloister across the street. The cloister is also a historic landmark and houses a restaurant called Paprikawirt – “Paprika Restaurant” in English – that looked excellent.

After a short break I headed back along the path through more vineyards and agricultural fields, then the towns of Halbturn and Mönchhof, before reaching Gols and the Judith Beck Winery tasting room. The path is quite well marked with signs and markings on the pavement, although I did get a little lost on the stretch between Halbturn and Mönchhof. After my tasting I rode around in the town of Gols since I had time before my train. There was at least one more Pannobile winery I passed and I also noticed the Pannobile Taxi, presumably to take people between wineries on Pannobile Day (another tip for next year!). The bike ride was about 24 km and the landscape was pretty much totally flat.

The trip to Gols from Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) takes about one hour. The OBB has a group fare called Einfach Raus that lets up to five people travel on regional trips for about 30 euros, it’s a really good deal for visitors.

Vienna St Ulrich’s Platz urban sledding

This sign says that snow will not be cleared from the pedestrian area to allow people to sled here.

This sign says that snow will not be cleared from the pedestrian area to allow people to sled here.

The first in a series of photos showing some of the things that make Vienna such a great place to live.

This one says that the snow is not being shovelled in this location so that people can use the area for sledding. It’s a pedestrian area around St Ulrich’s church in the Neubau District (7. Bezirk). It snowed today so I’ll try to get an action photo!

Well, it snowed a lot last night and I was able to get the photo below at “sledding rush hour” about 3:30 pm on Saturday afternoon. As you can see the hill is busy and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

If you want to see more, check out my flickr set Snow in Vienna. Just one of my many sets of photos from Vienna … here’s a link to my flickr collection of photo sets from Vienna.

Sledding on St Ulrich's Platz Vienna, February 23, 2013.

Sledding on St Ulrich’s Platz Vienna, February 23, 2013.

Vienna Tram Day 2011

Tram Day Vienna 2011 - Vienna Tram Museum

Tram Day Vienna 2011 – Vienna Tram Museum

Vienna’s annual Tram Day celebration was held at the Tram Museum this past September. It’s always a great party with lots to see and do. This year was great because the Tram Museum was open for free! Lots of historic vehicles and exhibits on some of the new things Vienna’s public transport company (Wiener Linien) is doing to improve service.

Historic advertisement providing advice to customers, Vienna Tram Museum (2011).

Historic advertisement providing advice to customers, Vienna Tram Museum (2011).

I especially liked the historic advertisement about why the conductor cannot open the door once it has been closed (right) – it even rhymes!

There was information on everything from the Wiener Linien’s social networking strategy to rebuilding track. With entertainment for the whole family – on at least two different stages! – and lots to eat and drink it was a great day.

More Vienna Tram Day photos on Flickr (from everyone, including me).

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