'Say sorry!' Vienna campaign urges residents

Posted at 06/01/12 2:49 PM

VIENNA, Austria - Repeatedly voted the world's best city to live in, Vienna is now trying to tackle the attitude of its residents amid growing grumbling over cyclists, pedestrians and other traffic problems.

With a new campaign launched Thursday and entitled "Tschuldigen ist nie verkehrt" ("Sorry is never amiss"), city authorities are hoping to encourage people to defuse situations and avoid clashes on the street before they escalate.

And they are giving a few tips on how to do it.

Step 1: shrug apologetically, says a pamphlet.

Step 2: grin "like it's Christmas."

Step 3: give a little wave.

And step 4: "Say sorry... even if nobody's listening."

The campaign also features people in traffic encounters holding up cartoon-like speech bubbles saying "Tschuldigen" (slang for sorry in German) and "Passt schon" (It's ok).

With a joint Socialist and Green government, Vienna has a relatively limited traffic problem, with good and affordable public transport -- the authorities recently bucked the trend in other European cities by lowering the price for an annual ticket to 365 euros ($450) from 449 euros.

However, there has been growing grumbling about drivers who ignore bikes on the road and cyclists who fail to follow the rules, while local newspapers regularly report on knife-wielding motorists and pedestrian-crossing arguments that turn violent.

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