Sunday, 13 July 2014

Let us get across our river!

From Most Siekierkowski down to Góra Kalwaria, there's nowhere to cross the river. These days, when Poles are getting more mobile, more active than ever, this is a getting to be a problem. Today, I intended to cycle to Pilawa, south-east of Warsaw, which I did, though crossing the Vistula was not easy. I crossed the Las Kabacki, cycled through Okrzeszyn City (każdy obcy będzie bity)* to reach the river at Obory. Hundreds of cyclists tearing up the asphalt around here.

An article I'd recently read in the local press suggested that at Gassy there'd be a ferry that's now taking pedestrians and cyclists across the river to Karczew. No such luck. I got down to the riverbank to find a lot of people puzzling over why there's no ferry. Apparently, I hear it's because of the ekolodzy, (ecologists) who are blocking the permission to open the service. From here, it's 25km to the other side by road. And it's not a safe road, either.  Below: a sign warns drivers of a Thelma and Louise moment that might befall them in 150m time.

Onward then. From Gassy to Góra Kalwaria, the best part of the trip. The Wał of Silence. No one around but me and the occasional cyclist or pedestrian. No bloody quad riders to spoil the quiet.

Approaching Góra Kalwaria, there's the railway bridge. One or two freight trains an hour at most. Can you get your bike across? Can you stroll across? Not unless you want the SOK (railway police) to slap you with a 50zł mandat for making an unauthorised crossing. Again, lots of cyclists around, below.

Onwards. Beyond Góra Kalwaria (after a kebab and beer), I decide to look for an alternative to the road bridge taking the DK50 across the Vistula. Is there a ferry downstream? Same story as at Gassy. Huge crowds on both banks expecting a boat to take them across. Nothing doing.

So I back-track to the bridge, looking for a route that avoids the dangerous ramp leading up to it. There is none. I'm forced - as anyone on foot or on bike wanting to cross the river - to share a narrow road with international trucks and speed-limit breaking drivers. This is dangerous. Finally, I get to the bridge, where there is a separate bike and footpath. But it's too narrow and too short. Below: the view looking south from the Góra Kalwaria bridge. You can see the two piers that the ferry should be serving in the middle foreground.

At the other end, cyclists and pedestrians are forced to dash across both carriageways to make it to the stairs down from the bridge to the safety of the embankment (when the quads are not howling along it).

Whoever is responsible for this bridge - it falls a long way short of the safety standards considered the norm in western Europe. If the bridge can't be re-engineered for pedestrians and cyclists - then open the railway bridge for foot traffic and bikes. Or allow ferries to take pedestrians and cyclists from one bank to the other. Like they do in Warsaw. Below: the ferry in Warsaw serving the beaches. Something like this is needed at Gassy and at Góra Kalwaria too. Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum/The sun is out and I want some/It's not hard not hard to reach/We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.

Poland's local authorities (outside of its major cities) need to sharpen up their act when it comes to the demands of a fast-changing society and deliver social amenities at low cost. The value to local communities of letting hundreds of cyclists and walkers cross the river using ferries and (safely segregated) rail bridges would be hugely beneficial for communities on both sides of our river.

Sorry - can't get over the Ramones - since hearing of Tommy's untimely demise, it's been full-volume Ramones all weekend. Below: updated lyrics of Commando, from Ramones Leave Home.
They do their best
They do what they can
They get them ready for Vietnam
From old Hanoi to East Ukraine
Commando - involved again
First rule is - the laws of Germany
Second rule is - be nice to mommy
Third rule is - don't talk to commies
Fourth rule is - eat Kosher salami
Those commentators who question the Ramones' talent should listen to the chord progression in this song - complex yet simple, melodic, catchy, heavy, fast - and those lyrics - as true today as at the height of the Cold War.

* Każdy obcy będzie bity = 'Every stranger will be beaten"

This time last year:
S2 update (nearly ready, as it happened)

This time two years ago:

Progress on S2 bypass - photos from the air

This time four years ago:
Up Śnieżnica

This time seven years ago:
July continues glum (2007 - a rainy summer)

1 comment:

pavolk said...

Brings back very happy memories of my bike up the river a couple of years ago. Coming up from the other direction, I crossed via the GK road bridge and, other than the views, it was one of the least pleasant experiences of the ride. Further upstream there were lots of ferry crossings and they were among the best features of the trip!