We are taking back the city - piece by piece

Prize Award for Seyedeh Ashrafi, Fabian Sandholzer and Barbara Laa at the Salzburg Traffic Days 2019

© Forum Mobil

The 17th Salzburg Transport Days of Forum Mobil took place from 14 to 16 October. Part of the event was an ideas competition for students. The task was to develop a project idea on the topic: New solutions for passenger transport or freight logistics using existing infrastructures.

Our staff and PhD students Barbara Laa and Fabian Sandholzer formed a team together with colleague Seyedeh Ashrafi from the research unit of transport system planning, which was one of three student teams to be awarded a prize. Part of the evaluation was a presentation format that was as unconventional as possible. They presented their idea of inspiring and animating city dwellers to reclaim public space by means of an information campaign as a "poetry slam". The title: We take back the city - piece by piece

The fact that the Vienna Chamber of Commerce is already peddling this slogan 3 days after the lecture fills us with some pride.

Here is the award-winning text:

We take back the city - piece by piece

The biggest problems of urban transport today
are roads for cars and not for people
Experts have recognised it and criticise it,
but it seems to be failing because of district politics.
We say: the space in the city is sufficient for the needs,
We just have to get the car out of people's heads.
We use the existing infrastructure
and end this vehicle monoculture
The space is just wrongly distributed
the pavement is too narrow, the roadway too wide
What are we currently accepting for this?
Accidents, injuries and deaths galore.
The MIV is also heating up the climate
and the consequences take their course
Expertise against climate crisis is the motto,
For the streets, then: less asphalt, more trees and grass.
After all, urban space should be liveable
and that is what we are working for
We take back the city - piece by piece

The streets have been fought over since time immemorial
The scene of revolution and stage for rulers-to-be
The automobile was quite successful
Satisfying its needs was long regarded as the highest goal in planning.
Only slowly is this hegemony dissolving in people's minds.
The greatest passion of many is still the SUV.
The space is just wrongly designed
a circumstance that does not change if one only administers.
But if one travels attentively from Vienna to Feldkirch
you come to the realisation that not everything is just "schirch".
"A Bänkle" in Dornbirn and "an Baam" in St. Pölten
and the city centres are improving by Wöltn
And so people are drawn out into the streets and squares again.
that's what they're there for - children playing and loud chattering
We take back the city - piece by piece

Parking, it was once called in the USA,
when green strips were planted along the road...
Horses were tied to trees there,
Then the car imitated it
Cities soon resembled tin deserts
and no one thought of a 'recreation area'.
The space is there, just wrongly divided,
When everywhere a car stays for 23 hours
A parklet here, a bench there,
and the street becomes a place to stay again.
Then bushes, a meadow and a tree,
And we've got a quality place to stay.
When you do need a car
We'll go to the nearest Car-Sharing point
That's how you take away the cars' arrogance of space
and create equidistance to the public transport system.
We take back the city - piece by piece

A look at other cities broadens the horizon
What works well should go to the front everywhere
In Salzburg the streets are narrow
and are left to pedestrian traffic in the centre
The cyclists, they often dream of Copenhagen
the infrastructure there ensures their comfort
Wide cycle paths and coordinated traffic light management
do not fail in Denmark because of the administration
In Barcelona, the superblock promotes pedestrian traffic
the walking stick is back in fashion there
Parking space management is a hot potato
but it makes for better utilisation
In Amsterdam you can park in the city centre for seven fifty euros.
Considering the amount of space used, that's still cheap.
We take back the city - piece by piece

Some products cover tens of thousands of kilometres.
Isn't that crazy?
The apple from New Zealand doesn't weigh much in the shopping basket.
but the CO2 footprint it leaves behind weighs all the more.
The distances are long, but they don't have to be.
we buy apples from Liesing and drink wine from Grinzing
The space is just misused
Where there's a car today, there'll be kukuruz tomorrow.
We change the function of space in the cities
and switch to local production
This not only saves lorry journeys
people also meet in the community garden
Grandpa Peppi gardens with Mohammad.
This is also a way of cultural exchange
Vegetable beds instead of concrete roadways
The edible city is not just a vision for the future
We take back the city - piece by piece

Our project idea then:
We start an information campaign
With this we go into the district
because that is where the most impact is made
We will put up posters on the topics listed here
to make people aware of the issues.
The space is there, just given to the wrong people
but we can change it for a better life.
We create awareness and inspiration
that is the purpose of the campaign
To do this, we stand in front of the university doors
and give the students an information brochure.
Then we do workshops in schools
- We try to attract attention everywhere
We also visit clubs and societies
and soon everyone is saying our slogan:
We take back the city - piece by piece