On May the 5th the Green Mazovia Association organized a happening in favor of ground-level pedestrian crossings near the Warsaw Central raiway station. Partner organizations from the Wheeler Federation took part in the happening which took place in the center of Warsaw.

On May the 5th – the International Day of Protection of Persons' with Disabilities Rights - we wanted to draw attention to the need for local authorities to build ground-level pedestrian crossings near the Warsaw Central station.

Along with representatives of the disabled, the elderly and mothers with prams, we walked - escorted by police - across the Czterdziestolatek roundabout - which is normally impenetrable for people with disabilities and parents with prams.

Next, we unrolled a mock pedestrian crossing across the Jerusalem Avenue and used it to get to the other side of the street. We proved that ground-level pedestrian crossing are needed at the roundabout, and that the passage of pedestrians does not require longer red lights for cars.

We invited the Mayor of Warsaw, Ms. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, to the meeting so that we could hand her a petition supporting the crossings at the Czterdziestolatek roundabout. The petition has so far been signed by over 1,200 residents. Unfortunately, the Mayor did not come or send anyone to take her place. This exemplified the stance of the city authorities: not interested in the problems faced by people with disabilities, parents and seniors. (We managed to catch the President in her office and give her the petition a week later.)

After the happening, the committees of two district councils debated the question of the roundabout (which borders the Ochota, Wola and Downtown districts). In both cases, the council members agreed on the need to improve pedestrian traffic conditions and unanimously decided that it is necessary to provide ground-level crossings.

The next morning, a meeting of the Committee for Social Dialogue on Disability took place. Its members unanimously adopted a resolution in which the Committee pointed to the urgent need to provide ground-level crossings around the Czterdziestolatek roundabout as well as another nearby roundabout to provide urban space accessible to people with disabilities. According to the members of the Commission the present underpasses make getting across some intersections in the center of Warsaw difficult or even impossible to persons in wheelchairs and strollers. The meeting was attended by representatives of organizations dealing with issues of disability and representatives of the Office of Assistance and Social Projects of the City Warsaw.

That same afternoon we received information that the Town Hall - previously opposed the construction of ground-level pedestrian crossings – declared a change of stance as a result of our actions. In a staff meeting chaired by Vice-President Jacek Wojciechowicz, representatives of the Management of Municipal Roads, the Public Transport Authority and the Traffic Engineer decided that pedestrian crossings should after all be provided ASAP at the Central Station. The information provided in the media varied with some informing that the Vice-President declared that the city will provide all four crossings around the roundabout and two more at the nearby intersection with Emilia Plater street, while others informed about two crossings around the roundabout and two at the Plater intersection. In both cases, this is a large step forward from the previous stance against any ground level crossings in the foreseeable future.

See also more photographs from the event [zobacz >>>].

The event was part of a project entitled ‘United for a barrier-free Warsaw open to everyone’ [zobacz >>>] which is being realized as part of the Citizens for Democracy program thanks to a grant from the European Economic Area. (More in Polish at razembezbarier.zm.org.pl/ )