It won't be a long note, but I have to write about one think that pissed and still is pissing me off. Viewer discretion is advised.

I live in Gdańsk/Danzig. This is a great city, but, like everything, has its bad sides. One of them is a fact, that we must keep to Polish law. It isn't ideal, actually, it sucks. For example, Polish road law has still differences between it and Vienna Convention. The act from 1969. To be fair, in last few years Polish government with parliament has been trying to change that - and in fact the gap was reduced. But still there are differences - e.g. the safety of pedestrians. Poland has the worst law for pedestrians in the European Union! They haven't got priority on crossings unless they enter it. They have to wear reflections in unurbanised area after twilight (and that's a new law!).

What's more, there are many people, who finds pedestrian traffic as a problem. They think that underpasses, overpasses etc. are the perfect solution (even though there are many examples, which confirm the fact, that if this is possible, most pedestrians choose the way in one level). Capacity of cars is a god for them, car traffic, the less efficient one, is the leading one, even though the majority of people (statistics for Gdańsk, but I have to admit that percentage of bikes increased rapidly from 2009) do not use car in their everyday commuting. There are many publications which describe the problem, many paradoxes are presently known, such as Braess's paradox or Downs – Thomson paradox, there are many urbanists who prove that cities with too many cars and too little pedestrians are worse to live etc. etc. However, people have a right to their own views, so if they don't harm anybody, do stick to road law, respect other people on the street – they can think like that, whether I think their opinion is stupid and unscientific.

But what's the worse, many people do harm other people, do not stick to road law, do not respect other people on the street. And that's the problem.

Poland has one of the biggest death r… no, wait. Poland has the biggest death rate in EU. In 38 mln country, on the road eleven people dies every single day. That's horrifying. For comparison, in Norway (which is not in EU, but is in European Economic Area) there are about 0.02 people killed on the street for one day. But you would say, that there are less people in Norway. Ok, so let's see the rate killed pedestrians for 1 million citizens annually. For Norway: 1.1 people. For Poland: near 3 people. And bear in mind, that one pedestrian killed in Norway is worth in this statistic much more than in Poland.

Why do that happen? It is generally said that this is because law isn't strict enough. Too many people believe that this is the only way to stop idiots on road. This is in many cases wrong – the best way to make our roads safer is to rebuild them in a safe way – with retardants, narrow strips, many pedestrian crossings, without collision-free crossings etc. When you have too many signs, people omit them and when your road is poorly designed, people aren't careful. This is a deadly mix.

Ok, so now there are two sins: bad law and bad projects. But there is a third one – the human factor.

Slavic (mainly Poles, Russians and Serbs) aren't known for their fondness of complying with a law. Ok, this is changing, but it's still current and cannot be unsaid. That's why they don't keep the polish road law, even though it isn't very strict. There is a way to enforce them to keep the regulations – expensive fines and many controls. Even as the first is going to be fulfilled, the second is neglected as shit. Go to the big Polish city and look on a regular pavement downtown. It would be probably full of badly parked cars. Most of them wouldn't be fined at all, which is horrible. Why? Because State and Municipal Police don't give a shit, or even sympathize with such criminals. Damn it!

Thanks for reading.

Data from:

  1. Casualties european, read on 23 May 2015.
  2. Jak kraje UE chronią pieszych (How EU countries protect pedestrians), read on 23 May 2015.

Background photo made by Samuel Zeller and published on Thanks!