Recently the Theater parking lot, now it's time for the Constitution parking lot. Warsaw doesn't have squares, it has parking lots, and this is about to change... unfortunately, the first is only the beginning of discussions and consultations, and the second is the idea of activists, not the city government. Changes in the center of the capital are slipping, meanwhile, the City Is Ours presents a vision for radical acceleration, using simple measures.
Constitution parking lot
#MarszałkowskaOdNowa is the latest project of the City Is Ours association, in which activists present their vision of transforming one of the main arteries of downtown Warsaw into an accessible and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly space. Although City Hall itself plans to rebuild Marszałkowska Street, the authors of the alternative idea point out that the changes proposed by officials are often cosmetic in nature and will not significantly improve the situation.
Photo: Adrian Grycuk | Wikimedia Commons © CC BY-SA 3.0 PL
Why Constitution Square? Because the Warsaw authorities have forgotten about this beautiful, but completely concreted place. Today its center is a huge parking lot, on top of which it is intersected on all sides by multi-lane, busy streets. Cyclists here are pushed onto the roadway or sidewalk, it is noisy, there is a lack of greenery.... It would take a long time to list. In addition, Rafal Trzaskowski is not planning any significant changes there. And yet this could be the living, green heart of this part of Downtown!—City Is Ours.
So what do the socialists propose? They want to devote the central part of the square, today a parking island cut off from the world in one of the most representative urban interiors of the capital, entirely to a green square with a pond, an open market and outdoor cafes. Traffic would be significantly reduced and taken over by a single, western lane of Marszałkowska Street leading towards the Politechnika subway. Its eastern part reaching Zbawiciela Square would be transformed into a bicycle highway. It would be a bicycle road entirely separated from car traffic and supplemented with green spaces. Existing bus and streetcar service would be preserved. One strand of the road would, in turn, preserve the possibility for neighborhood residents to commute to the area by car.
Lublin Union traffic circle
While Constitution Square today resembles a parking lot under a shopping center in the suburbs, Lubelska Union Square is the most ordinary traffic circle with a transportation function that dominates the space.
Sketch of Marszalkowska Street near Zbawiciela Square
© Miasto Jest Nasz
Unia Lubelska Square is the southernmost part of Marszalkowska Street. The turnpikes near the square once welcomed visitors from the south to Warsaw, and today they could do the same to welcome Warsaw cyclists from Mokotow heading to Downtown. We present our preliminary idea for restoring equitable distribution of space in Unii Lubelskiej Square—Miasto Jest Nasz.
In MJN's vision, a continuation of the bicycle highway would run through the square—a wide and safe bicycle path parallel to the streetcar tracks, which would create a convenient connection between Mokotow and downtown Warsaw. The center of the square would be transformed into a green space, a meeting and resting place for local residents. Marszałkowska Street itself, on the section from Unia Lubelska Square to pl. Konstytucji would be calmed down, making bicycle and car traffic safe for both sides and unobtrusive for pedestrians. The authors of the proposal note that they have included in their concept not only the preservation (and increase) of streetcar traffic associated with the construction of the line to Wilanów, but also parking spaces for residents.
stitching together the Saxon Axis
Sketch of Marszałkowska Street at the level of Saski Garden
© Miasto Jest Nasz
Activists also proposed changes to the Saxon Axis, or rather the reconstruction of its course. Today, Marszałkowska, which is torn apart by roadways, is neither legible in space nor accessible to pedestrians or cyclists. Although reconstruction of Marszałkowska Street is already underway in this section, City Hall will not designate the pedestrian crossing planned here as part of it. It will be built as part of a separate project. It's hard to say what the delay is due to—so instead of one, there will be two reconstructions of the same place. We analyzed the slow pace of the changes in the article Marszałkowska turns green slowly.
grassroots public consultations
The City Is Ours doesn't stop at just proposing changes and throwing them into the public space. It is organizing grassroots consultations of its ideas. It asks residents about the reception of the proposed changes, but also about good practices from other cities that they would be happy to see in Warsaw.
Visualization of Marszałkowska Street at the intersection with Świętokrzyska Street
© Miasto Jest Nasz
How do you like this vision? Or do you have other ideas for changes to this square or Marszalkowska as a whole? We invite you to fill out our online survey [...]. This Thursday, July 6, you will also meet us at the square itself, where we will collect your opinions about this place and our proposals for change—City Is Ours.
You can express your opinion about the association's project in the survey available at: LINK