It is the fifth year in a row that Melbourne has topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability Survey. Vancouver and Toronto in Canada came third and fourth, in a ranking based across five areas: stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare and the environment.
Earlier this year, Vienna came top in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey for 2015, and second in a similar survey by Monocle.
Whilst we happily admit that Vienna is a great city in which to live, we believe there is still room for improvement. Here’s six ideas that could help it really confirm its status as the city for best quality of life. One or two are fairly controversial, so we don’t expect everyone to agree.
Introduce 'the scramble'
Vienna does have great traffic lights. Photo: Wien.gv.at
In many countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia, busy intersections can feature ‘pedestrian scrambles’ – meaning that when the lights go red for traffic those on foot are allowed to cross in any direction including diagonally. And while we’re at it, why not give pedestrians priority at marked zebra crossings and allow us to make our own judgement as to when it's safe to cross a road? No more waiting at traffic free crossings for the lights to turn.
Better cycling lanes
Although Vienna is a pretty bike friendly city, it ranks only 16 in a top 20 list of best cycling cities put together by the Copenhagenize index. In order to compete with cities like Amsterdam and Denmark it still needs to invest in cycling infrastructure – creating even more cycle lanes so that bikes are separated from heavy traffic, and reducing pollution in the city centre.
Crackdown on dog mess
Bag it and bin it, folks. Photo: st-stephens.at
Vienna's 'clean city' campaign has stepped up the fight against dog fouling and dog owners faces fines of up to €225 for failing to clean up after their pooches. However in some districts dog mess is still a problem in residential streets and parks – even more so than in bigger cities like London and Paris. Maybe local schemes where people publish pictures of offenders online would help reduce this foul problem, or failing that a 'canine CSI' to track down errant owners.
Cap the price of a melange
Vienna is rightly famed for its grand and historic coffee houses and the traditional coffee known as melange (a coffee with milk foam). However, prices have risen scandalously in some of the more famous cafes along the Ringstrasse and personally we’d like to see a cap on the price of a melange – a maximum of €4 seems reasonable, €6 seems excessive. No wonder that 88 percent of Austrians prefer to drink their coffee at home.
Crack a smile
A little bit of friendliness wouldn’t hurt the Viennese, and might even improve their reputation with foreigners – they are rather renowned for their grumpiness and aloofness. Grumpy bus drivers, old ladies who shout at you in supermarkets for getting in the way, and waiters who can’t crack a smile even when you tip generously – it’s all part of that particular Viennese way that is starting to feel a little outmoded these days.
Stub it out!
Photo: Paul Gillingwater
Austrians love to smoke – in bars and restaurants, in the office, at the bus stop, in parks, anywhere you can think of really. A complete smoking ban is due to come into force in May 2018, but until then prepare to partake in your fair share of passive smoking if you’re a non-smoker and like to socialise once in a while.