Whoosh loves to walk.
As social designers, we know that there is no better way to build strong communities than having lots of locals out on the streets, playing together and getting to know each other.
And yet 700,000 car journeys in Vienna each day are less than 1km long. Why not walk?
We organise creative events which celebrate Vienna as a good city to
explore on foot. Walking is sexy, theatrical, fun, simple, free,
healthy, ecological, social and political. It helps you engage with the
day, refresh your head, notice new things and most of all - think more
Walkers vote more progressively than car drivers.
Geh bitte! And walk on the wild side.
to walk is one of the first milestones we celebrate in a young
person’s life. After that, it is largely forgotten as a skill.
For many people, the journeys to and from work are a boring daily grind. But how we choose to travel to the office (or college) is also one of the biggest day-to-day climate decisions we face. In countries like Austria and the UK, the transport sector is now responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other. Globally, transport produces a quarter of CO2. Too much of the world’s mobility still focuses on cars. Road vehicles - cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes - account for nearly three quarters of the emissions that come from transport.
So, the way you get around each day can make a big difference to your own carbon footprint.
Every Journey Starts with a Single Step
If you walk to a meeting or appointment, you know you will be on time, unlike with cars or public transport which can break down. And walking to work leaves more room for others on the crowded U-bahn, which is good for everybody.
To make walking easier, we recommend you download this excellent application, which tells you how long your walk takes, and gives suggestions for different routes. It was created by the innovative mobility department of Vienna City council.
Here are a few reasons why we should all walk more. Exploring the city
on foot is often neglected by residents, but once we go on holiday,
people will often enjoy walking all day, around a new city or up a
mountain. Why is it that we enjoy walking only when away
Maybe because it is so easy in Vienna, that we just don’t notice we
are doing it? Or that it is free, and therefore undervalued? It is
certainly not boring, with so much to look at in our beautiful,
varied city. We will show you what walking means, for mental health,
for building community, for physical health, for the ecological
health of the planet, and also, less well-known, for developing
creative ideas. Or are we all too busy and stressed to walk?
look at a few reasons why people choose not to walk - they see it as
slow, unhealthy, boring or that the weather is a problem. If you
check an app, Vienna is a dense city and you can walk right across it
in around 4 hours. Most distances can comfortably be covered on foot,
but more importantly, walking is a way to prepare for meetings,
develop ideas or solve problems. Once you see it as a way to work
more creatively - that walking is working - then walking is not the
slowest way through the city, but the most productive.
Walking is far
from unhealthy. Car drivers face much more pollution than walkers,
since we know shorter ways through the city, far away from angry
traffic. It only rains in Wien for 3.5% of the year, and we enjoy
1900 hours of sunshine each year.
since walking is a metaphor for independence and courage, there are
many great songs about it, which you can treat as your motivating
soundtrack: Walk this way, You'll never walk alone, Radetzky Marsch,
I would walk 500 miles, Walk on the wild side, Walk like an Egyptian,
Walk the line, Walking on the moon, These boots are made for walking,
and Eugene’s favourite: Led Zeppelin’s Ramble on. And there are
many other words for walking, showing the different uses it can have:
pilgrimage, promenade, protest march, passeggiata, park ramble.
then there are silly walks - plenty of them. From the fast walkers at
olympics, to walking with sticks for sport. And babies have funny
walks, also dogs with three legs, Monty Python's Ministry of Silly
Walks, George Clooney and footballer Arjen Robben.
Your style of walk says a lot about who you are. Remember that! There
are many more ways to walk than most people realise.
Walk the Talk
you need to walk is a good pair of shoes. Less well-known
is that walkers, as a group, vote differently to car drivers. They
know their city much better than car drivers, and have more trust,
since they encounter the real city every day, far away from all that
depressing news which drivers listen to while getting stressed inside
their cars, typically on their own. Walkers feel less angst. They
meet people as they move through their community, whereas drivers are
limited in their communications to a loud horn. Walking is part of
the new mobility strategy in progressive cities. It is the greenest
form of transport, and also the healthiest. 1.5 million people die in
car accidents every year. And
accounts for more kilometres
travelled than airplanes or any other form of transport.
live longer than car drivers. As a group, they are also wealthier, on
average, than car drivers, and better-educated. Walkable
neighbourhoods are some of the most attractive in any city. And
walkers have more friends than car drivers. Going for a stroll is
also an opportunity to escape from the addictive quality of social
media. Although it seems appealing to many to check their accounts
frequently, when their smartphone buzzes, this is often wasted time
which could be used doing more productive things.
Put simply, walking produces ideas, offers time for reflection, planning and problem-solving. With more oxygen flow to your brain than sitting in front of a laptop, and more blood pumping around your body, you will be stimulated into bigger and better thinking. It’s a technique to optimise your body and mind, and is therefore good for your mental health, as well as the obvious physical benefits.
Geographers can now estimate how
overweight residents of a district are, using satellite images to measure the
distance between key resources (school, park, shop, public transport,
cafe). Sprawl is bad for you, and density good. 21% of drivers in the
Innere Stadt are not going anywhere, simply circling, looking for a
parking space. Walkers spend no time at all looking for a parking
space - they just walk in the door when they arrive (on time!).
Americans now spend more money on driving than on housing, which is
madness. Walking is free.
people plan a walk, alone or with friends, most will choose nature -
rivers, forests, parks. Eugene finds this a mistake. There are
more choices offered by urban spaces - layers of architecture,
cafes, music and quite simply: people living their lives in their own
district. If you need a toilet or to escape the rain, or sun, or get
something to eat, that is much easier in the built environment. But
more importantly, you are building community when you stroll around
your own Grätzl. And maybe adding to the local economy also. Walking
builds the sense of togetherness, of networks and security and the
buzzy social life which most people value.
film director Federico Fellini understood the appeal of street
theatre. Whoosh co-creator, Eugene Quinn, is also passionate
about public space, and how to animate and celebrate it. Through
watching Fellini films and teaching spatial-planning at Vienna
Technical University, he developed the theory of
This is a measure of how much theatre and joy we find on some city
streets, and the reverse - how dull and cold so many other streets
are, because they lack people and interactions and a sense of play.
Next time you walk along a city footpath, try to measure how much fun
you see, and you will be applying the concept of street
to your hometown. Poorer, more diverse, colourful vierteln
usually score higher than rich, empty, parked-car streets, and in
this sense it is a new way of judging which part of town we might
enjoy living in. People living inside the Gürtel walk twice as much as those
outside it. 30% of trips in Wien are made on foot.
enjoys the hustle and flow of big city streets - just think about how
it feels to move through Siena or Brooklyn. The Italians in
particular understand that walking is not just a way to get from A to
B, but an opportunity for personal marketing and joy. It often
resembles a catwalk, and is super entertaining. In
Paris, all the bar chairs are arranged to face the river - and
therefore the people walking by. Locals go for colourful performance
and sexy strolling, but in self-conscious Wien, almost nobody puts on
a show or turns the space into a catwalk. A missed opportunity!
People-watching has long been one of the key attractions of walking,
even if some walkers may not recognise this fact. Just take away the
people and you realise what a joy other people - in all their
colourful, crazy, sexy oddness - can be. There is a carnival element
to life, of play on the streets, and we should never forget this
theatre that plays out, every single day.
You'll Never Walk Alone
The Danish urbanist Jan Gehl says there are 60 km/h- and 5
km/h-cities. The difference is that the faster ones were built in
century, for cars, and the slower ones earlier, and on a more
human-scale, for an age of walking. The slower places are full of details
to enjoy, whereas car cities are boring, because at 60km/h, you do
not have time to take in the richness of place. Vienna is a
5km/h, cinematic metropole.
Eugene is leading tours around Vienna, local people often ask him
what his real job is. They don’t believe that walking could
be a profession. But it is one of the best jobs in the world, to explore
this city on foot, creating urban adventures to start debates. One
tour which he does not recommend to the average person is our Lange
Marsch, where we visit all 23 Vienna districts in a single day. That
nine hour walk is only for the crazy ones.
A practical recommendation
to start your urban adventure, is simply to walk out of your front door one Saturday
morning, and head off in a new direction, getting lost a couple of
times. Leave your phone in your pocket, and just see what happens, as
Another useful tip is to put your address into the website walkscore.com, which will rate your neighbourhood for its walkability (criteria include good footpaths, street lighting, weather, steepness, safety, how near you are to useful things, and how attractive the place looks). Walking gives you the opportunity to connect with each new day, watch the seasons change, have adventures to tell your workmates once you arrive at the office, and of really belonging to your city. The street is where people meet, not just drive by. Walkers have a greater intimacy with the city, a more emotional, intellectual and spiritual connection to it. Walkers know the city. They know its back ways and side streets, its different rhythms and how it fits together. To walk it is to own it.
walking has a certain poetic aesthetic to it. Just think of flaneurs,
and psychogeographers. Walking can be art, with people like Francis
Alys and Richard Long turning urban odyssies into culture. Walking
some distance is about marking the contrasts between neighbourhoods,
and understanding the connections and geography, which you don't
experience on the U-bahn, while it is underground.
Famous walkers in history included Aristotle, who would make his philosophy lectures as walks through Athens, because he wanted his students to concentrate on the real world, and found they learned more when standing up and more active than the passive university seating.
Beethoven walked for
five hours every day, around west Vienna, always with musical sheets,
composing as he moved. It was a central part of his way of working,
and you can hear it in his music, with its rhythms and contrasts.
Charles Dickens struggled to sleep at night (like Eugene). Instead he walked through
Victorian London, listening to ordinary conversations for research,
but also, as a committed socialist, to understand the poverty and
reflect this in his stories.
Steve Jobs turned job interviews into
walks around Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. He was interested in
discovering how potential colleagues approached the walk,
psychologically - how often they looked at him, how they crossed at
lights, but also how they reacted to things which happened on the
streets, in terms of empathy and spontaneity. For confirmation of the
importance of walking to thinking, consider how many philosophers and
poets used it as a central part of their practice: Nietzsche,
Rimbaud, Kant, Rousseau and Thoreau.
academic studies show the improvement in quality and creativity of
ideas developed, but also in memory tests, in participants who went
for a walk, compared to those who were sitting at desks.
are fewer rules for walkers than with any other form of transport.
And therefore we get less stressed than cyclists. Walking is not
competitive, but collective and social. One of the ways you see this
lack of formality is in the Desire
(Trampelpfad/Wunschweg) which walkers create, when an official path
does not go where they want to. You see these as patterns on grass,
but also as footprints in snow. They are a form of resistance to
city-planners, and a show of independent thinking. Snow allows you to break the rules of where paths used to be, should be, usually go. You can literally make tracks which others will follow. It's a special and romantic feeling, and the sound of walking on snow is magical.
benefit of walking is that you get to anticipate good things that are
coming up in your life, rather than the constant stress. Get ready
for a holiday, meeting a friend for dinner, or a film you are about
And being in public space is the best way to burst your
social media bubble: the risk of believing that everybody thinks like
you do, because your friends reflect your own views back at you in an
Walking is Working
is seen as boring because we do it everyday. You only come to value
it, when you are not able to do it, because of injury, or corona
lockdown. No other animal walks on two legs and it gives us humans the
opportunity to write things down while we walk.
the best animation cannot recreate walking as we do, since it's such
a complex interaction of so many parts of our body.
We mentioned earlier how cool walking sounds in pop songs, and it
undoubtedly can motivate people in their day But we recommend that you walk without earphones, since this adds to the atomised
sense of modern life, with too many individuals and not enough social
engagement. Those who walk around with loud music miss out on the humour and spontaneity and possibilities of the streets. They
are saying 'fuck you' to the rest of the world - 'I don't want to speak
to you, or think about you, or be here.' Or that you are anti-social.
Listen to the rhythm
of the city and its fascinating urban soundtrack. Engage with the
respond to its stimuli. And in the city, there is plenty of music around
you anyway, from clothes shops, cars, apartment windows and buskers. So please, let the city be your soundtrack, not something alien,
from outside. Be ready to chat to those who would like to.
many countries, even short journeys which could be made on foot
or by bike, are usually made by car. In Austria,
60% of 1-2km trips are made by car. Like
slow food, this is partly a celebration of the possibility of slowing
down our world, of taking time to reflect on each day, but also to
smell the day, sense the weather, the people around you, the shops,
bars & street life (and yes, the cars and adverts), but
also the 1.9m people who live in their rhythm around you.
The Viennese pass each other on the right when walking, but in London there is no corresponding drift to the left - it is more freestyle and chaotic.
An anecdote from Eugene in his previous job as a tour
manager for Great Rail Journeys. I used to move from city-to-city
with a group of travellers, and each time we arrived at our new hotel -
always by train - I would say, ‘OK,
there's the spa, there's the bar (a priority for the Brits), and for
anyone interested, meet me back here in the lobby in 20mins and
we'll go for an orientation stroll, to get a feeling for our new
location before dinner together’. And through this, I'd discover
the most curious and often the brightest in the group, those who
valued a sense of place and more belonging (smells and tastes, people and mood), those who had their eyes open and
really wanted to experience a place (roughly 40% of each group).
if you don’t commute, because you work from home or are
retired, this is still a manifesto for you to recognise what a
useful tool walking can be. There is a great value in family walks,
even if children are at first sceptical. Younger children can walk
for seven hours, no problem. Maybe teens get bored, but before that they see things we don't because they're
closer to the ground & see insects, money, little details.
picnic will always taste better if you've walked to get there with
your bottle of wine, good tasty bread and strawberries. You have earned some tasty treats!
that a child learns more from walking in a forest than any
other experience or lesson they have, up to six years old. It
engages all five senses - if you find something to eat like
blackberries or wild mushrooms. Kids rarely get excited when joining a family walk, but they usually enjoy the experience, and
Eugene regularly manipulates school classes (14+) into
having a walk, by suggesting the teacher ask her group if they would
prefer to have next week’s English lesson in the classroom, or as
an open-air event, on one of Eugene’s smart city tours.
hasn't had a memorable walk with a partner? There is a
romance in walking - let’s call it strolling or rambling. Walking
is now rebellious in the context of a culture of speed. And you are
much more likely to meet someone new while walking with friends in
the streets, than cycling past them. The image of an odyssey or exodus -
an extended journey on foot - is biblical and epic and out of time.
See the reaction to this
woman in black
and her 1500km walk. She would not have got this attention as a car driver, or even on a
bike. It is the slowness and time that is striking, alongside her mystery.
Walkers break many rules and are rebellious in practical ways. We are in the place itself, rather than
in an unchanging vehicle, and so are open to more immediate and more
varied external stimuli. Examples include when you are surprised to
find a green space, beautiful vista or piece of street art.
Walking offers a contemplative engagement with the city.
walkers, it is sometimes appropriate to say 'hallo' to your fellow pedestrians, who are strangers. There are no rules, but most people sense
it instinctively. Cyclists almost never greet each other. In the night time or very early morning. you
have joined a little club and so greet each other. Like being in a
lift, it can be more comfy to say something than to walk by in silence.
Eugene loves that sensation, at the end of a big walk, where you know that the minute your head hits the pillow, you will fall asleep. So our advice is to walk the city, walk to work, to college, to markets, to parties, to the cinema, to meetings. And also home again. And walk with curiosity, courage & friendship.
This Walk to Work Day is part of the Whoosh event, Vienna Walking Week, to celebrate urban walking, and also the concept of #TourismForLocals
Here are the 92 urban tours we offer:
Kaspar – Seestadt Child-led Walk - Free-range Parenting!
The Invisible Smart City Tour
Alles Gute Otto: all Wagner buildings on his Birthday
Gesichten des Westguertels
Geschichten des Westguertels
Gerueche des Westguertels
Smells Like Wien Spirit Tour
Russian Echoes in Wien Tour
Midnight Walk – All Along the Gürtel
Secret Courtyards of Central Vienna Tour
The New Donaukanal Tour
TED Talk 2 (VOLKSTHEATER, Oct16): Walking and Creativity
Silly Walks Contest
Munich Ugly Tour
Tribes of Donauinsel Tour
Why Vienna is the Best City in the World Tour
Vienna Ugly Tour
Seestadt – A Critical Exploration
Tall Towers Tour
Der große Marsch
Market Analysis Tour
Classical Vienna…with a Twist Tour
Wine Walk Bisamberg - A G'mischter Satz
The romance of urban walking in Vienna (UN lecture)
Yppenplatz and the spirit of Ottakring (walk)
Nordbahnhof urban exploration
A g’mischter Satz instagram walk - Semper Depot & Theobaldgasse
A g’mischter Satz: geh bitte, ein Streifzug am Hbhf
Walk through Augarten for new parents
Wien bei Nacht Walk
Walk the Line: Neubau Grenze tour
7 eigenartige Wiener Kirchen - am Sonntag
Heisses Wien - Tabu Walk
Invisible Smart City (English lesson for schools)
Walk on the Wild Side party
Vienna Walking Week 2021
The Red & the Green - an Irish-Wien Storytelling walk
Arsenal, Hbhf, Sonnwend & Umgebung - an Impulstanz Introduction
Lost Places - Joy of Freudenau
Rotes Wien - 15 Beautiful Brick Buildings
Feminist Walk for Men, by Men (Brigittenau)
Human Rights & the City walk
100 Jahre Gemeindebau - 10 Bauten in 10 Jahrzehnten (mit Wien Museum)
Wien Unbekannt? Walk am UNHCR Langen Tag der Flucht zu Macondo Fest
Worldwide Food tour - Hamburg
Die Ringstrasse des Proletariats (fuer Wiener Wohnen)
Haessliches Wien - Vienna Ugly auf Deutsch
Football Architecture - Five Vienna Stadiums on big Champions League Match days
Willkommenskultur - Dir Tore der Stadt
100 Jahre Bundesverfassung
Aufzeichnungen des Unterwelt - Meidling & OTK Film launch
50 Jahre TU Raumplanung - Wie ein Uni die Stadt Veraendert hat
50 years of TU Raumplanung & a more feminine city-planning
West Penzing Comedy Beisln
Landstrasse: Ein Ganzes Land in einem Bezirk
Spuren des Wiener Rassismus
Falco: 40 Jahren Ganz Wien
Brexit tour - on the value of intercultural dialogue between London & Vienna
All 15 Oslo Districts in a day
What Christmas means for Atheists - a tour
Zentralfriedhof - How to Die Better (with Caritas)
Favoriten Jetzt - 5 hour tour ending in Heurige
Sonnwend Rooftops tour
Hietzewelle - Ganzen 13.!
Tribes of Wien - Anthropology
GMPDFR - touring the Creative Wien scene & Psychogeography introduction
Architecture of Education - inspirational tour
Future of Intimacy
Hot Summer Night - Yppenplatz to Donaukanal
2 Graetzeln - Neulerchenfeld & Hoernesgasse
Wien & Wasser - Storytelling Swim walk
Placemaking in Floridsdorf
London vs Wien Mariahilf - comparing Social Housing
Lustenau World tour
Lustenau - 10 best buildings
Lustenau Schweizer Ried
Lustenauer Jugend bei Nacht
Lustenau Judischer Rhein Flucht 1939
Lustenau Balkon Poesie Rundgang
Pop-up Culture & Zwischennutzung
Worldwide Food & Diversity Wiens
WU Wien tour of Bricolage Careers