When we first started propagating the woonerf concept in Łodź in spring 2013 we weren’t sure if such an idea could be adopted in our city. We assumed that citizens would probably support plans to transform existing roads, consisting of just parking spots, into spaces which would be more people-friendly.
The woonerf concept is nothing new. It’s been around for a couple of decades and was originated in Holland. In the 70’s Holland was going through an auto boom. This led to a shortage in parking spaces and a dramatic increase of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. It was at that point when local road traffic engineers decided to transform streets, which were surrounded by residential buildings, into people-friendly living spaces which proved that pedestrians, cyclists and drivers could coexist without any hazards.
According to us Poland is in the same phase of motorization development as Holland was more than 4 decades ago. This is why we decided that it is a good time to introduce the living-street concept (originally called woonerf).
Meetings with citizens
In order to verify if our anticipations were justified we met with residents of 6 Sierpnia street and presented them our idea of rebuilding their street. It turned out that they liked the project so much, that they submitted it to the participatory budget, where it obtained a sufficient amount of votes to be carried out. Thanks to this campaign we may now enjoy the first woonerf in Poland. During a meeting with residents of Piramowicza street one of our guests was very touched and said that he had seen woonerfs in Holland, but never would have expected something like this on his own street.
What can we expect?
Citizens intuitively know that streets don’t only have to serve as parking spaces for cars but can also be important parts of public spaces, especially in city centers, where other types of spaces don’t exist. This is why we started our campaign which aims to encourage residents, show them examples of good practice and make them aware what they can expect from city officials and road engineers. Because we have belief in the wisdom of citizens of Łódź and we are convinced that they are able to pick what is best for them, we shall continue presenting and promoting solutions which are widely used in the civilized world.
We encourage you to become acquainted with our publication “A different way – common space”, which is available at ISSUU.COM