Why better public involvement in transport is needed

Photo of a political poster on Vienna's transport

Rot-Grun Stau Vienna political poster about transportation. “Rot Grun Stau” criticises the Social Democrat-Green Party city government for causing congestion (“stau”) in Vienna.

This political poster illustrates why projects like GreenCityStreets are needed to help educate residents about sustainable transport and to provide them with a forum for suggesting and supporting good ideas. Why is this necessary?

Because transportation is complicated and politicians try to make it seem simple.

This illustration from Vienna is from the middle-right political party (Austrian Peoples Party – OVP). In Vienna the Social Democrats (red) and Green Party (green) are in charge of the government administration. The OVP is criticising the city’s transportation policy by saying that the “Red-Green = Stalled Traffic”. They suggest that “A coordinated regional transportation policy would be better.”

But, what on earth does that mean? Where are the specifics? And, why is Vienna recognised worldwide for its high quality public transport system and livability if transportation is such a problem?

The answer, of course, is that urban transportation is complicated. There are no simple solutions and many good ideas cannot be implemented because of simplistic political slogans like the one in this poster. Instead of being constructive the OVP is simply seeking to make points by criticizsing a problem that all interesting cities share: congestion.

Our idea with GreenCityStreets is to educate city residents and empower them to help support implementation of politically difficult transportation solutions in their cities … the opposite of simplistic sloganeering.

By the way, I don’t mean to pick on the Vienna OVP, all political parties are guilty of the same thing.

Andy Nash

June 27, 2011

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