Free parking is pretty much a given for us, but it shouldn't be.

We recently went on a little road trip to Vienna to deliver some cargo bikes that we had restyled. Arrived there and after a good night's sleep, the first thing we were allowed to do next morning was peel a ticket from the windshield: 36 euros. Parked too long, or "parked", as it is also called.

It may cost something

The first reaction to the tuber was of course "Woaaaa, ey, what's up!?", only to quickly realize that this is actually exactly what we want for Berlin: High parking fees and heavy fines that make using and parking vehicles noticeably more expensive, gradually stripping the cities of noise, exhaust fumes and speeding metal to free. Because unfortunately it doesn't work without supervision. We were able to experience that first hand.

Wien Karte Kurzparkzonen

Vienna is a single short-term parking zone

The whole city consists more or less of short-term parking zones. Without a local license plate, you can't stand anywhere for more than 2-3 hours. You just stand there, stupid, because what to do with the cart? Unfortunately, our bus didn't fit into the next parking garage. So we geniuses stood back in the same place and prayed that we wouldn't be mercifully slapped with a second piece of paper for another day. The strategy worked, but waking up in the morning with the thought of possibly being able to pay 72 euros or even worse is not what we mean by a relaxed start to the day.

Public transport always and everywhere

But above all, what the city is doing right, in addition to reaching into the wallet for non-residents parking, is their unbeatable offer for using local public transport. An annual ticket costs 365 euros. For one euro a day you can conquer the whole city. And you can do that really well and easily, because the trains run at short intervals, the bus network is finely knitted right into the outskirts.

Of course, the conditions and the context are not the same everywhere, but it is still worth taking a look beyond the borders. In Tallinn, for example, public transport has been free for all residents of the Estonian capital for several years. Luxembourg started this month with a nationwide free service.

Knöllchen hinterm Scheibenwischer

You have to want it

Unsurprisingly, honest efforts to tackle nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in a city come at a cost, and not every government can claim to be a tax haven like our tiny neighbor. Resident parking permits, which cost 10 euros a year, and a 60% share of unmanaged parking space in the entire inner-city area give an idea of where there is still a lot to be gained. If you want.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that convenience prevails when I can count on parking my tin can in the countryside at my destination, so to speak. That's why I like the Viennese approach quite a bit, even if it hurt a bit.

Eberhard Schilling