Gdańsk Cycling Infrastructure and Promotion Project

Gdańsk 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. It is a free Hanseatic city; its roots are Polish, German and Dutch. Gdańsk cycling and alternative community is perhaps the most vibrant in Poland. Gdańsk was the first city in Poland to have the Cycling Task Force, long requested by the cycling community and finally organized by the Mayor. Gdańsk was also the first city in Poland to have its own bicycle infrastructure design standards, developed by experts from the Technology University of Gdańsk with some participation of cycling activists and based on the "Sign Up For The Bike" manual for cycle-friendly infrastructure from the Dutch organization CROW.

Bicycle rides organized by the Obywatelska Liga Ekologiczna (local environmental NGO, the chief cycling advocate in the region) attracted more than thousand people and impressed local politicians. In 1999, the Mayor set up a team to investigate whether cycling infrastructure could be possibly funded under European Union ISPA program. This was exactly when Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced its Operational Program 11 - mitigating climate change induced by transport. Cycleway construction projects were eligible.

Gdańsk authorities, local cycling community and Cities for Bicycles, aided by Przemek Czajkowski of UNDP Poland were quick to make decision: Gdańsk will apply for GEF OP11 medium sized grant, not ISPA. The team that immediately started work on the project proposal included Roger Jackowski (OLE Gdańsk), Marcin Hyła (Cities for Bicycles), Przemek Czajkowski (UNDP Poland), mr. Antoni Szczyt (Municipality of Gdańsk), Susan Legro (UNDP Climate Change coordinator for Central Europe) and Cynthia Page (UNDP Headquarters). The draft proposal was ready in September 2000, the formal submission procedures were completed in December 2000. In May 2001, the GEF decision was positive: Gdańsk got funding (see the project document, .pdf file, 3 MB). It turned out that it was the fastest developed medium sized project in GEF history.

Now, with some unexpected delays, the project is under way and - according to the Project Document - will be completed in 2004.

Gdańsk Project is about three things:

  • Construction of 30.7 km segregated facilitie and calming traffic on 70 km of existing streets (see the map of segregated facilities to the right - click to enlarge)
  • Public awareness and public participation campaign in Gdańsk
  • Know-how dissemination and project replication

The long term goal is to increase bicycle use in Gdańsk to 5-10% of all trips (currently near 1-2%) and in this way, control the motorized transport induced emissions of greenhouse gases by 250,000 tons in 15 years. The 5-10% figure is similar to the cycling levels in cities in southern Sweden, just across the Baltic Sea. It seems feasible, judging from the polls commissioned by the Miasta dla rowerów from polling and market research companies (TNS OBOP and BBS Obserwator). Most people interviewed by those reserach groups quote lack of cycling facilities as primary reason they do not cycle. And there apparently is a vast pent-up demand for cycling in cities as every fourth person expresses readiness to cycle to work.

The segregated facilities were selected following a multi-criterional analysis that included the present journey matrix for Gdańsk, bottleneck analysis, technical feasibility analysis and cost analysis. The cycleways to be built concentrate along the main transport corridors in Gdańsk and can easily be continued into the cities of Sopot and Gdynia. There is a good integration with urban rail system. And the Upper Terrace hilly part of Gdańsk has been scrapped, as it is not so densely populated, there are steep hills and segregated cycleways would have to be very long and expensive to build. To see the cycleways under construction, please click here.
Cycling facilities in Gdańsk

The awareness raising and public participation campaign is self-explanatory. To see the street actions, click here and just follow the links (this page is in Polish). An important part of the project is quality control and public participation, including users' representation. Pictures from public meetings can be viewed here.

The know-how dissemination and project replication includes bulletin production and distribution, workshops for local authorities across Poland and consulting. Ten workshops have been completed and one proposal for cycling infrastructure funding has been prepared and submitted by the Municipality of Cracow.

We see the Gdańsk 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 (total cost of the project is 2.5 million US dollars), got the municipality involved politically and financially, succeeded in fundraising and now co-operates on implementation together with the Ministry of Environment and other project partners (see below). The Gdańsk project is the first complex cycling activity of local government in Poland that is user-oriented and quality-oriented. It is also the first one that has already resulted in radical improvements for cyclists in Poland.

The Gdańsk project in fact created a model for co-operation and project management ("Cycling Package") that seems to work well, is easily understood by potential beneficiaries, fits the Polish legal framework and is being implemented in other cities.

Will keep you updated on the Gdańsk Project developments.

Below, you can find the contacts for all institutions involved in the project.

Urząd Miejski w Gdańsku (Municipality of Gdańsk):
Marek Sojka, Project Manager
Antoni Szczyt, Wydział Inżynierii Miejskiej
ul. Nowe Ogrody 8/12 80-803 GDAŃSK
tel. +48.58.3023020
tel. +48.58.3023041
fax. +48.58.3026900

Obywatelska Liga Ekologiczna:
Roger Jackowski, Przemek Miler
ul. Zbyszka z Bogdańca 56A 80-419 GDAŃSK
tel./fax +48.58.5201020

Polski Klub Ekologiczny/Miasta dla rowerów:
(Polish Ecological Club/Cities for Bicycles)
Marcin Hyła
ul. Sławkowska 26A 31-014 KRAKÓW
tel. +48.12.4232074
fax. +48.12.4232098

Ministerstwo Środowiska (Ministry of Environment)
Departament Instrumentów Ochrony Środowiska
dyrektor Wojciech Jaworski
Monika Lesz
ul. Wawelska 52/54 00-922 WARSZAWA
tel. +48.22.5792522
fax. +48.22.5792217

UNDP - United Nations Development Program
Ewelina Pusz, Program Officer
al. Niepodległości 186, 00-608 WARSZAWA
tel. +48.22.8259245
fax. +48.22.8254958
fax. +48.22.8255785