|GP: Gdansk Cycling Infrastructure and Promotion Project - Poland|
A man on bicycle on a flat road can travel four times faster than a pedestrian using the same amount of energy. Sounds dull? Then imagine a pedestrian and a cyclist starting from the same point. In fifteen minutes the cyclist will be four kilometres away while pedestrian will be only one kilometer away. Which means the latter might have accessed any of the points scattered on area of three square kilometres while the cyclist could have reached any destination in the area of more than fifty square kilometres or sixteen times larger! And the difference does not involve any extra energy spending, pollution, noise or land occupation.
The Gdansk Way
A very interesting approach was taken by cycling advocacy groups in Gdansk, Obywatelska Liga Ekologiczna (Civic Environmental League). Gdansk is a city in northern Poland at the Baltic Sea coast. Gdansk is a city in northern Poland at the Baltic Sea coast. Inhabited by some 465,000 souls it is a part of “tri–city” conurbation together with smaller cities of Sopot and Gdynia. Its cycling and alternative community is perhaps the most vibrant in Poland. Numerous cycling demonstrations attracted more than thousand people on bikes, impressed local politicians and led to a unique contract between the grass–roots and the local government in the late 90’s.
The Gdansk Project Details
Gdansk Project was about three things:
Segregated facilities were considered appropriate for a number of reasons:
The awareness raising and public participation campaign is self-explanatory. It included a number of public meetings, demonstrations and media work. An important part of the project is quality control and public participation, including users' representation. This was primarily consulting the design and construction process to make sure Desgin Standards requirements are met. This work was performed by Civic Environmental League, a local NGO.
The Municipality of Gdansk was responsible for the design and construction of cycleways.
The Project Implementation
The Gdansk project Executing Agency was the Ministry of Environment and involved three separate Implementing Agencies: Municipality of Gdansk, Civic Environmental League and Polish Ecological Club. The implementation of the project was much delayed for a number of reasons. One of them was a „culture clash” between partner organizations. The project proposal was developed by the NGO’s outside the local government and its details turned out to be not clear to the city officials.There were conflicts between the city officials and the NGO community regarding the quality of the designed infrastructure as well as cost eligibility of works commissioned by the Municipality that did not rely directly to the project goals.
The lessons from the project
The project implementation met obstacles of organizational (political) and legal nature. The solution for the first was the Bicycle Package, for the latter - detailed proposals to change law. The Bicycle Package is the blueprint for cycling policy on local level and consists of four elements:
The Project Impact and Results
We see the Gdansk project as a major breakthrough for Poland. This is the first and so far only case in Poland that the grass–root community developed project of this size, got the municipality involved, succeeded in fundraising and co–operated on implementation with the Ministry of Environment and other project partners. The Gdansk project is the first complex cycling activity of local government in Poland that is user–oriented and quality–oriented. The project tangible results were cycleways that offer very high quality and now constitute local Best Practice showcase. Other results include the Public Participation processes and procedures. Cycling Task Forces have been set up and local Design Standards were commissioned by numerous cities across Poland, together with Bicycle Audit procedure proposed as a way to overcome several problems with bicycle policy implementation. And some cities have developed infrastructural proposals to be funded by the EU or other funding sources.
Urząd Miejski w Gdańsku (Municipality of Gdańsk):