The Warsaw Smog Alarm summed up the three-year presidency of Rafał Trzaskowski in terms of mobility and space. Activists assessed how the president delivered on his promises in terms of walking, cycling and public transport. They also checked the pre-election promises concerning streets and squares.
In the report that has just been published, the authors evaluate the promises of Rafał Trzaskowski from 2018 when he ran for the president of Warsaw. Declarations related to transport, as well as the space of streets and squares, constituted a significant part of his program at that time. And that’s what they took on the wallpaper. “In our report – prepared after the halfway point of President Rafał Trzaskowski’s term in office – we will focus on checking to what extent he fulfills his promises related to the means of getting around the city important for sustainable mobility – pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as public transport. with changes in the urban space “- they wrote.
The report is divided into parts related to pedestrian, bicycle, car and public transport. A separate chapter covers urban space, i.e. streets, squares and local centers. In their assessment, the authors use the following scale: the red “smiley” is negative, the yellow – neutral, and the green – positive.
Public transport: the most “red faces”
The largest number of red “faces” was found in the part concerning public transport. They were assessed negatively promises of free public transport for high school students, adjusting the Senior’s Ticket to the new retirement age for women. The activists also highlighted the sluggish expansion of the P + R parking network, which, according to Rafał Trzaskowski’s announcements, was to surround Warsaw by 2021 and provide 8,000 parking spaces. Currently, there are two such car parks under construction, at the railway stops of PKP Warszawa Jeziorki and PKP Warszawa Żerań, for a total of 375 parking spaces (and 166 for bicycles). “There are plans to build new ones – in Wesoła, Międzylesie, at the Bródno and Trocka metro stations as well as Karolin and Lazurowa, at Białołęka at the Winnica junction – however, the lack of secured financing precludes the possibility of building them before the end of the term” – the authors of the report indicate.
In addition, activists noted that little had happened regarding the promised construction of a connector for the Centrum metro station and the Śródmieście railway station. Only in April 2021, Metro Warszawskie signed a contract for the technical analysis of the connector. However, there was a stagnation in the talks between the city and PKP. “According to the words of Vice-President Michał Olszewski in September 2021, the deadlock in the talks has been overcome, but there is no official information on the joint arrangements yet,” the report said.
Unfulfilled promises related to tram investments were also assessed negatively. It is about, among others, tram to Gocław, a line connecting Wilanów with Mokotów, Ochota and Wola, a section to Zielona Białołęka and lines along Modlińska Street (only in October 2021 a tender for a technical and economic study was announced) and connecting the European Union roundabout with the Wilanowska metro station. According to the authors of the report, the case is also bad a new line along the Kasprzaka street. In the case of this investment, construction is scheduled to be completed in 2023. At the beginning of October 2021, Tramwaje Warszawskie announced that the National Board of Appeal dismissed the last, seventh appeal in a tender announced over a year ago. This will allow for the signing of a contract for the performance of works.
The report also pointed out to Trzaskowski’s failure to fulfill his promise regarding a dynamic information system for bus passengers – similar to the one that operates at many tram stops.
They pointed out the lack of the Śródmieście bypass
In green, the authors of the project assessed the promises that are being implemented, regarding the purchase of new bus and tram rolling stock, as well as metro and SKM trains.
On the other hand, promised investments related to car transport were assessed in red. It is about closing the downtown bypass – the section from the Wiatraczna roundabout to the Żaba roundabout was to be opened for traffic. As indicated by activists, in November 2019 Rafał Trzaskowski announced that he was putting this investment on the shelf until the budgetary situation improved. “This is one of the few new road investments that could please both supporters of car transport and sustainable transport” – assessed the authors of the report. “On the one hand, it would mean the possibility of opening a new road connection, shortening the road by car in some ways. On the other hand, it would explain that limiting car traffic in the broadly understood city center is not detrimental to interdistrict transit, since there is an alternative in the form of a small bypass” – they added.
However, the unrealized promise to abolish the fee for the parking subscription for the first car in the family for the residents of Warsaw – people paying taxes in Warsaw was not assessed. There are no announcements at the moment, and the city is gradually expanding the paid parking zone.
They appreciated the New Center of Warsaw
There are also many green “faces” in the report. There are especially many of them in the part concerning pedestrian traffic. The authors positively assessed the implementation of promises, such as the construction of slow-moving streets in Śródmieście, the transformation of Jasna, Szpitalna, Zgoda, Bracka, Chmielna and Złota streets (only in the plan), Pięć Rogów square (under construction), as well as Krucza, which, according to the plans of the town hall, will be transformed into La Rambla in Barcelona with a promenade in the middle and a row of trees. As emphasized by the Warsaw Smog Alarm in the report, all projects “assume a pedestrian-friendly space, more wooded and with reduced car traffic.” The authors are also pleased with the promise of building a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Vistula River.
They show a little less enthusiasm when assessing the implementation of strictly bicycle investments. In this case, the authors of the report refer to the study by Paweł Ziniewicz from the Zielone Mazowsze Association, which has been monitoring the progress in the development of the Warsaw bicycle network for years. As they note, in the Study of the Conditions and Directions of Spatial Development for the Capital City of In 2006, the main bicycle routes in the center of Warsaw were defined in 2006 – five along the north-south axis and four east-west. So far, only two have been merged: from ul. Prosta over the Świętokrzyski Bridge to ul. Sokola and from the Gdański Bridge along the Vistula boulevards to the Poniatowski Bridge.
On the other hand, the authors of the report positively assess the absolute length of the bicycle routes established in Trzaskowski’s tenure. They calculate that in 2019 and 2020 a total of 86 kilometers were built, of which 49 were dedicated bicycle lanes. The remaining infrastructure is bicycle lanes and counter-lanes, counter-traffic in one-way streets and, to a lesser extent, pedestrian and bicycle routes. At the same time, according to activists, creating new bicycle infrastructure in the city is fraught with weaknesses. They indicate that bicycle paths are often built at the expense of sidewalks or greenery and are not sufficiently separated from sidewalks, which results in conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, they accuse the city traffic engineer of not introducing a counter-cycle for bicycles at the same time when delineating successive one-way streets, which – according to activists – is the cheapest and easiest way to create new bicycle infrastructure.
Activists accuse Trzaskowski of failing to fulfill his promise to develop the Veturillo city bike system by creating new stations. “Compared to 2019, the number of standard (300), electric (10) and children’s (6) stations did not change in 2021. At the same time, in the bridging tender, ZDM resigned from all 31 stations financed by districts so far. 49 to 32 the number of so-called sponsorship stations “- pointed out the authors of the report.
The authors of the report appreciated the implementation of the promises concerning changes in the urban space the ongoing transformation of downtown thoroughfares into city streets. However, they evaluate the related activities negatively revitalization of Prague, which, according to the authors, has been “forgotten” in a way. Promises regarding the modernization of Trzech Krzyży Square, Grunwaldzki Square, Bankowy Square, Zawiszy Square and Teatralny Square have not been fulfilled.
“Actions are partial and inconsistent”
In the summary, the authors of the report wrote: “The direction publicly indicated by the president in the field of urban mobility is positive, but the measures taken to implement electoral promises are in many respects half-baked and inconsistent”. “It is hoped that some acceleration – visible in the last six months – will translate into greater dynamics of activities in the second half of the term. While continuing the program of the New Center of Warsaw, it is also necessary to undertake intensive actions for sustainable mobility in other districts” – they stressed.
Presenting their subjective assessment, the authors of the report wrote that “the development of urban mobility in Warsaw is slow, and the distance to other European metropolises is growing rather than narrowing”.
Main photo source: ZDM