Sunday, 17 August 2014

Public land, private land

This sign (below) appeared on a lamp post on the corner of ul. Dumki and ul. Trombity. [For my non-Polish readers it says: 'Private property - no entry to the unauthorised'.] For my Polish readers, note the use of the word 'wjazd'. The verb 'to go' in Polish is determined by manner of going - to go on foot is iść, to go in a car or on a horse is jechać, to go in a plane is lecieć, to go in a boat (or indeed swimming) is płynąć. (Stanisławski uses over two whole pages to define 'to go' in his English-Polish dictionary.) Anyway, the noun wjazd comes from the verb jechać, to go (by car, by bus, by train, by bike, on horseback, in a carriage etc), to travel. To enter on foot (verb) is wejść, the noun is wejście - entrance (on foot).

So this sign is not attempting to prohibit pedestrians, only motorists, cyclists and horseriders. I say 'attempting' for this sign has no legal weight whatsoever. This is because it tries to impose an entry ban to vehicles on a thoroughfare (ul. Dumki) claiming that it is private property, which it is not.

To demonstrate the folly of whoever put up this sign, take a look at the official online map of the city of Warsaw, from the official website of the City of Warsaw. I've copy-pasted the relevant fragment below (click to enlarge), the junction marked with a red circle. As you can plainly see, ul. Dumki runs into ul. Kórnicka; both are officially denoted as roads. In fact any atlas of Warsaw streets will show ul. Dumki running into ul. Kórnicka. Plus the local authorities have installed in recent weeks a series of litter bins alongside the ponds both along ul. Kórnicka and ul. Dumki. If this were indeed private land, these public litter bins would not have appeared.

So what's going on? Why are local people unilaterally declaring that what is public is actually private? An attempt by individuals to seize land that doesn't belong to them, Putin-style? This is, I think, a response to the increased vehicular traffic along ul. Dumki since the flood relief scheme has been completed and the resulting lake has become an attractive place to visit (click on the labels, below). The local authorities had prepared a plan to make a nature trail and park here, but the inhabitants of Ursynów voted instead to build a new centre for the disabled, which was a more pressing need for the district. So this year and next at least, there will be no nature trail, no park - but people will come here to fish and enjoy the scenery.

More people means a greater impact. Until recently, ul. Dumki was impassable to all but the stoutest of off-road vehicles. Restored and graded, it once again take traffic - though it is not asphalted. And once motorists start using it - especially after heavy rain, once again it will become deeply rutted and unfit for use.

And the rubbish - here and there lie large bags of household or construction waste that have clearly been brought here by car or van. A ban on motorised traffic should help stop the brudasi from dumping their rubbish in this lovely part of the Polish capital.

The answer is to close off the unasphalted part (between ul. Kórnicka and where the asphalt runs out) to motor traffic (including motorbikes and quads), and make a footpath so that prams and baby buggies can easily be pushed over it, and so cyclists of all ages can use it, along with pedestrians in normal footwear.

However, this requires the decree of the district hall, lots of bureaucratic process that it would be best to postpone until some later date (ideally after the elections-after-next). So while Urząd Dzielnicy Ursynów ums and ahs, local residents have put up this sign. There's no such sign at the other end, so drivers coming up from where the asphalt ends are unaware that someone doesn't want them here.

Interestingly, Google Maps shows Dumki as petering out about a third of the way along. So GPS devices powered by Google Maps would not show this as a right of way.

So - if you wish to drive this way - be mindful of the fact that you are allowed, but you are not welcome. Walk or cycle, by all means, please.

This time last year:
Two Warsaw sunsets over water

This time four years ago:
Farewell to the old footbridge over Puławska

This time five years ago:
Let's ban cars with engines over 2.0 litres

This time seven years ago:
Ul. Kórnicka gets paved over

1 comment:

DC said...

Speaking of unauthorized entry:

I hope these brave souls will be ok. Greetings from Lviv.