“We’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside, takin’ that ride to nowhere, we’ll take that ride”
Talking Heads “Road to Nowhere”
If you were to take a drive in an easterly direction from Krakow city centre, towards Nowa Huta, and travel on Aleja Pokoju, you would find one of Krakow’s newest roads. It is so new in fact, that it does not yet have a name. It is a new way, designed to connect Aleja Pokoju and Aleja Jana Pawla II, passing alongside the large Park Lotnisko green area. When completed, it would connect the two main streets going east and north-east of of the city centre, potentially making cross-city journeys easier. However, the difficulty is that the road does not exactly meet the two roads it seems to be designed to meet.
The principle of the road seems to be a good one; a through-pass which will connect two roads of heavy traffic. It may not be everyone’s idea of the ideal location, as it does pass close to the Park Lotnisko, which currently can be seen as something of a quiet haven in the city. It is a large green area with plenty of trees, open grass areas and paths for walking, jogging, cycling and rollerblading. There are also childrens play areas as well, so the idea of adding more car traffic nearby did not seem to be so well thought out.
However, that was not the only badly informed choice when it came to deciding to build this road. In order for the road to join Aleja Pokoju with Aleja Jana Pawla II, some buildings and houses would need to be circumnavigated, or removed where possible. If you look at the above map though, you can see that our road (marked with the green A) does not ‘connect’ directly at either end. It seems the planners assumed that everyone would be happy for a road to continue there, and proceeded with building the road without finalising moving or relocating those that could be affected. This resulted in an impasse on the Aleja Jana Pawla side, with some houses still standing, and the road ending abruptly.
The below house lies at the end of the road
In one regard, it’s a pity that the road is not in use. It is probably the best road in Krakow, in terms of quality. With it being recently built, and with little or no traffic so far, the surface quality is excellent. There are lots of signs, lanes and traffic lights, and the road markings have not been affected by weather or traffic levels. However, the positive that has resulted from it not being used, is that the road has become a beacon for walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers. On a fine day it makes for an excellent area for a stroll or light exercise, as can be seen below. There are broad paths and are well built with no damage. They also have designated areas for walkers and bicycle lanes, which are not so common in Krakow. It is absolutlely safe also, with no traffic to currently worry about.
As the road is now ‘off-limits’ for automobile traffic, it has been recently suggested to build a concert hall on the edge of the park, beside one of the side-roads leading off this road. Currently, these roads are going nowhere and end abruptly, as if the road builders went home one evening and forgot to come back on further days. Whether something will be built there will probably get wrapped up in bureaucracy, inside red-tape (inside an enigma). If something does come about, it will only fell like a stop-gap answer instead of the road being used for its original purpose.It would be interesting to know of the reasons for beginning the road and not finishing it as had been planned, but for now it remains an oddity to have such a section of roadway and it lying unused.