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Vienna: Car-free inner city before the end

For months, the Austrian capital has been discussing the "car-free city". But now on Friday the bomb will explode: the showcase project in the making will not come to fruition.

Vienna's deputy mayor Hebein did not even try to hide her disappointment from the media - her heart's project of a traffic-calmed Vienna city centre lies in ruins. The main culprit of the failure is quickly identified: ÖVP district leader Markus Figl. Before a driving ban can come into force and be legally compliant, appropriate signs must first be put up.
No legal basis without signs? There was something... Exactly, even in the German capital the diesel driving ban was postponed for weeks because the corresponding reference signs could not be delivered and installed in time.  

In Vienna the situation is comparable and the approach of the government is similarly bumbling and headless as in Berlin. In a meeting at the end of last week, ÖVP district leader Figl mentioned the estimated expenses for the complete activation of the "car-free city", sign costs included. For the time being, of course, the budget must first be approved by the respective district budget. For Figl, the ambitious project is now too half-baked and probably simply too cost-intensive: "Due to the many uncertainties surrounding the car-free city, the application will not be voted on. A slap in the face for Deputy Mayor Hebein. So the plan to make Vienna's city centre car-free by mid-October has failed miserably. Mayor Michael Ludwig has the last word on the matter.

Whether he will stand by his word, however, or whether he will withdraw his responsibility for a clean inner city, and not least for the health of Vienna's citizens, at the last minute, also by pulling his tail between his legs, is in the stars.