»Sex and the City«: What can gender-appropriate urban planning look like?

»Sex and the City«: What can gender-appropriate urban planning look like?
Claudia Falkinger, Women’s State Councilor Christine Haberlander, and Eva Krail (not in the picture) discussed with Deputy Mayor Martin Hajart
Image: private

“Cities have historically been planned by white, car-driving men, and that’s what they look like.” With this statement, the Viennese city planner Eva Kail made it clear on Thursday evening that “female” needs are often underrepresented in urban planning projects. Kail is considered an expert and pioneer in the field of gender-equitable urban planning.

She took part in a panel discussion in the OK Open Cultural Center at the invitation of Linz’s transport officer, Vice Mayor Martin Hajart (VP) and the Academia Superior – Society for Future Research. In addition to Women’s State Councilor Christine Haberlander (VP) – she is chairwoman of the Academia Superior – Claudia Falkinger, managing director of the mobility start-up ” Punkt vor Strich “, also took part in the discussion. Hajart took on the role of moderator. Under the title “Sex and the City” the topic was what gender-equitable urban planning would look like and which screws could be turned.

Different routes

Like Kail, Falkinger also emphasized that the reality of his own life is reflected in the plans. In addition to the fact that most city planners are men, what makes things even more difficult is that routes and mobility behavior vary greatly.

Men often travel directly from home to work, while women make several stops in between – from kindergarten to doing the shopping. The Linz Modal Split also makes it clear that men and women differ in their choice of means of transport.

While 46 percent of men travel by car, the figure is only 39 percent of women. Women walk more often (30 percent (up from 22 percent), they also use public transport more often (23 percent), and 18 percent of men. At 14 percent, they cycle more often; for women, the proportion is eight percent. A circumstance that Falkinger comments on with the words “The quality of the infrastructure can be seen from the number of women riding bicycles.”

A big topic on Thursday was women’s subjective sense of security. Haberlander emphasized that they would perceive darkness and invisibility differently, for example at house entrances.

Night visits in Linz?

Here Hajart took up a ball brought into the debate by Kail. With a view to the lighting situation, he announced that night-time inspections would also be introduced in Linz with the involvement of citizens. “This allows you to identify areas of fear and make them safer,” Hajart is convinced.

Haberlander also campaigned for more visibility of women not only at the planning tables and in the political committees relevant to urban planning, but also for more street names after women. “Do it,” she concluded by appealing to women to actively participate, while at the same time calling out to men: “Don’t be afraid!”

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