Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!
Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!

Divides instead of unites - another controversy over the footbridge between Ludwinów and Kazimierz in Krakow

14 of June '24
w skrócie
  1. Construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge linking Kazimierz and Ludwinów has begun after years of discussion and abandonment
  2. The project, designed by the Lewicki Łatak architectural firm, envisions a single-span structure nearly 130 meters long and costing more than 114 million zlotys.
  3. A letter from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage warns of a real threat of an audit by the UNESCO monitoring mission in connection with the construction of the footbridge.
  4. Divided public opinion on the footbridge includes supporters of bicycle infrastructure and opponents who fear degradation of greenery.
  5. Consultations and modifications to the footbridge's design address residents' concerns by changing the volume of the supports and pedestrian and bicycle ramps, while preserving the green areas.

  6. For more interesting information, visit the home page of the AiB portal

The topic of building a pedestrian and bicycle footbridge linking Kraków's Kazimierz and Ludwinów has been appearing in discussions about the city's development since at least 2006, when the design by Biuro Projektów Lewicki Łatak was selected in a competition. It seems that after many years of neglect, construction of the footbridge has begun in earnest. Is it proceeding smoothly, however?

bold design

The footbridge connecting the banks of the Vistula River on the side of Kazimierz in the area of Hieronim Wietor Street and Ludwinów near the intersection of Zatorska and Ludwinowska Streets was designed by the architectural firm of Piotr Lewicki and Kazimierz Łatak. The single-span structure is to be almost 130 meters long in total and cost more than 114 million zlotys.

The bold design of the crossing envisions providing users and users of the road with three passageways - a bicycle and two pedestrian ones. The first will allow quick and trouble-free passage over a horizontal surface; the second will serve a scenic function.

Thanks to its unusual construction, the footbridge will take on the shape of a sine wave suspended over the river, at the tops of which, located 5 and 16 meters above the water level, there will be viewpoints, offering those using the footbridge an unusual perspective on the Vistula boulevards.

dyskusja na temat położenia kładki budzi zainteresowanie

The discussion of the footbridge's location is generating interest in the

visions. Lewicki Łatak Design Office | © Zakład Inwestycji Miejskich w Krakowie,vision. Lewicki Łatak Design Office | © Zakład Inwestycji Miejskich w Krakowie.

The storm around the footbridge

The realization of the described concept is dragging on, generating more and more controversy about the consequences of the final construction. Like a boomerang, catastrophic visions of delisting the city from the UNESCO World Heritage List return. Such concerns have been in the public debate for years, fueled, among other things, by the negative opinions given to the construction of the footbridge in 2018 by the Provincial Historic Preservation Officer and the National Heritage Institute.

The latest chapter in the battle over the infamous footbridge is a letter sent last year by Bożena Żelazowska, secretary of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, to Jacek Majchrowski, then mayor of Krakow. The author of the letter, disclosed in recent days, reports on a complaint that the "Boulevard is Us" social civic committee sent to the director of the World Heritage Center in 2023 in connection with the planned implementation of the controversial concept. The letter also draws conclusions about the consequences of the footbridge's construction - according to Ms. Zelazowska, there is a real threat that Krakow will be audited by the so-called UNESCO monitoring mission. She cites as analogous examples the stories of places such as Dresden, Liverpool and even Wrocław, where such an audit will be conducted in connection with the construction of the Grand Island Avenue.

It is difficult to find these arguments convincing, since in each of the places mentioned interference with the values protected by the UNESCO listing was much more extensive. It should not be forgotten that, unlike the allegedly analogous situation that took place in Dresden, the planned footbridge will be outside the boundaries of the entry, encroaching only on the buffer zone where much more controversial investments have been built for years.

The disclosure of the letter has caused the discussion about the construction of the crossing to flare up again, with information being circulated on social media about the alleged threat to Krakow's status as a World Heritage site.

Bulwar inflancki

The Inflants Boulevard - a section of the Inflants Boulevard, where one end of the under construction footbridge will be located

Photo: Zygmunt Put, ©CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Divides, though it was supposed to connect

The issue of the footbridge linking Ludwinów and Kazimierz has become a battlefield between two groups with conflicting interests and radically different philosophies on how to look at issues of urban development and historic preservation.

On the one hand, there is a sizable group of people advocating the construction of a new crossing over the Vistula. These include, first and foremost, the bicycle community, which draws attention to the urgent need to expand the city's bicycle infrastructure. Supporters of the footbridge also point to the aesthetic values of the project and the city-forming potential of the new investment. As an example, they cite the Father Laetus Bernatek footbridge, erected in 2010, connecting Kazimierz and Podgórze at the site of the former Francis Joseph Bridge. Despite initial protests, it turned out to be a highly successful investment that helped revitalize the Old Podgórze space, but also contributed to the gentrification of the area. Despite this, it is hard to imagine today a pedestrian or bicycle trip from Podgórze to Kazimierz in any other way than just via the Fr. Bernatek footbridge.

People opposed to the construction of a connection between Kazimierz and Ludwinów are concentrated, among others, around the already mentioned civic committee "Boulevard to Us". We can get to know their doubts by reading the open letter sent to the President of Krakow in 2023. Dr. Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand, the author of the appeal, draws attention primarily to the significant degree of transformation of the green parts of the Inflants Boulevard in the place where the footbridge would be embedded. This is not an unfounded argument, because unlike the already mentioned Fr. Bernatek footbridge, the locations where the ends of the planned crossing would be located do not have suitable structures on which to embed the new investment. Construction of the necessary supports as presented in the original concept would involve pouring a significant amount of concrete and degrading the vegetation in the vicinity of Maple Avenue at Wietora Street. The letter also reads about flaws in the project itself, which include a failure to consider the needs of people with mobility disabilities.

The planned structure would be an intrusion into the skyline of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, obscuring the view of two sites of extraordinary value to our historical heritage: Wawel Castle and Skałka.

- states the author in the letter

However, there is reassuring information coming from the Cracow magistrate 's office - residents' concerns about green areas and the legally protected structure of the Inflants Boulevards have been taken into account, and the design of the crossing is currently being consulted again and modified. The volume of the supports, as well as the pedestrian and bicycle ramps that allow access to the footbridge are to be changed, first of all. Preparatory work that has already begun is continuing, as a result of which a change in traffic organization on the Kazimierz side, in the area of Hieronim Wietor Street, will be in effect from June 17.

Przemysław Ciępka

The vote has already been cast