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"Sustainable mobility" in Gdynia. This is how the city encourages driving

14 of February '24

Is encouraging residents and tourists to choose a car in a well-connected location and adding more parking spaces in the city center a step towards sustainable mobility? You may wipe your eyes in astonishment, but Gdynia's city officials convince you - that it is.

The construction of a costly underground parking garage for 270 cars right next to the City Hall in Gdynia has stirred discussions from the beginning. The idea was pushed through as part of the development of the six-hectare Central Park, one of Gdynia's flagship (worth more than PLN 83 million!) investments. And this despite the fact that you can easily get here by public transportation, and reach the SKM stop on foot - in just 10 minutes.

The city - and how - did not listen to voices to give up costly parking spaces, and use the money saved, if only for greenery. Today, the black scenarios spun by opponents of the parking lot are coming true - from the costly investment (the construction consumed about PLN 32 million) - hardly anyone wants to use it.

Instead of encouraging public transportation, the city is tempting: Park in the center

So today officials are doing their best to increase interest in parking spaces underneath the Central Park: the rates charged in the parking lot are lower than those in the Paid Parking Zone (we pay a symbolic zloty for half an hour of parking). In addition, 50 spaces were allocated in December as part of a subscription that officials intend to tempt those who work or study in the center.

Close, convenient, accessible. Park in the center and enjoy the convenience, officials urge in announcements.

This is another step toward sustainable mobility and green streets that will encourage walking and spending time in the city space, with easy access to parking spaces, but without crowded and ubiquitous cars. Reducing the number of parking spaces along most popular pedestrian thoroughfares also means greater safety for the least protected traffic participants, namely pedestrians, and secondarily for cyclists or scooter r iders, they add.

Listening to explanations that sustainable mobility is behind the incentives to choose a car - supposedly - one can wipe one's eyes in amazement. If officials really care about it, they should eliminate as many, or more, surface spaces after building a huge parking lot. Meanwhile, Gdynia boasts that the number of parking spaces... is growing.

Not counting the stock of spaces under Central Park, in 2023 the Downtown Paid Parking Zone added more than 80 new spaces. This is more than twice as many as in 2022, officials point out.

Public transportation and bicycles put away?

Such incentives also come as a surprise, since as recently as last July Marek Lucyk, Gdynia's vice-president for development, advised people to leave their cars at home when going to the city center.

In Gdynia we promote sustainable transportation, so we encourage people not to come to the Downtown by car. This way we don't generate exhaust fumes, noise and reduce the volume of cars. We have an excellent public transportation system in our city, plus a very good network of bicycle paths," said Marek Lucyk, Gdynia's vice-president for development, last year.

Is this change in approach a result of the upcoming elections? A nod to voters chained to four wheels? It is certain that to the heights of absurdity the City has recently climbed, extolling parking spaces on... public transportation. Posters with the slogan: "More and more parking spaces in Gdynia!" (by no means for bicycles, but cars) - appeared on Gdynia buses.

Nothing to do but get off and change to a car!

You can easily reach the beach, government offices, the cinema or theater, or the swimming pool from the weather-protected parking lot [underground at the Central Park - ed.] at the intersection of Al. Marsz. Piłsudskiego, Partyzantów and Świętojańska ," encourages Marek Łucyk, Gdynia's vice-president for development, today.

It's a pity that he doesn't add that many can also easily get to these places by trolleybus, bus and SKM. And, to paraphrase the vice-president's statement from last year, not generate exhaust fumes, noise and more cars. Well, but somehow one has to defend a debatable, low-interest, expensive investment.

Ewa Karendys

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