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Vienna would be a Gold rated city, at least.
I’ve got some time budgeted for a bike tour around the city sights of Vienna tomorrow afternoon; I’m overdue. There’s been a couple of days of rain, but everything is clearing up for a beautiful day tomorrow.

I hear it said from so many other travelers,

Vienna is the most-livable city in Europe.

Arguably, I’d quickly add. There’s a big drawback to life here in Wien, as the locals call it — there’s a high rate of cigarette smoking.

So the locals are enjoying some of the best bike infrastructure on the planet then sparking up in restaurants and cafes. There’s a little cognitive dissonance here. Where are the Public Health advocates, let alone bureaucrats? Someone should be doing something. I can only imagine what the country’s health care costs add up to as, like in the US, they face an aging population.

Of course, I doubt many of the commuters I see on bikes are lighting up.

Like I often do when I travel, I’m walking around the city’s attractions. I don’t know where I want to ride, but by tomorrow I will. I’ve been here for a European business angels conference – I’ve attended the last 6 years – but it all winds down at lunchtime tomorrow.

Trains, trams, trolleys, light rail, buses and bike paths — Vienna commuters have it all!

Every sidewalk and bike path is well marked. As a first-time visitor I can easily keep out of the bike paths as I walk to the tourist sites.

When the weather’s nice I want to sit in an outdoor cafe – there’s just one huge drawback – all the smokers!

He doesn’t know that secondhand smoke is harmful to his pregnant wife? Where’s he been for the past decades?

Back to their bike paths: the city leaders have made all right choices. There are ultra wide sidewalks – they have to be to accommodate the huge crowds of tourists.

Often it’s just a stripe or a low profile curb that separates the bike path from the sidewalk on the streets away from the city center. Intersections have been designed with all modes in mind.

There are walk lights for pedestrians and bike riders; they each have their own crosswalks and each is well marked.

Where did they find all this space to accommodate cyclists?

The automobile travel lanes have been squeezed down, as they should be. To enjoy the quiet, clean and efficient bike travel modes someone here in city government decided, like many of his European peers, to make space available for auto alternatives. It pays off. Maybe because you’d have to be crazy to drive to the city center, or it really is just too convenient to take the metro, the trolley, the bus or the bike to work each day.

There’s no smoking at the delightful Cafe Schwarzenberg.

Culture oozes from every part of the city; here, outside the Opera House, a live performance is broadcast for free. Opera lovers cram into seats across the sidewalk.



Frank Peters

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