It was a buzzy, gorgeous Sunday afternoon with crisp, cool air and that golden mood of early Autumn. I was positively swooning over this scene on Ulica Świętokrzyska in Warsaw. Many of the best aspects of pedestrian life and space come together on this block- the trees, shaded seating, public benches, a dedicated bike path, ample seating for eateries and cafes on the block and a diverse group of local shops.
In numerous studies I have read as well as interviews and talks with both municipal employees who work with pedestrianization projects and researchers who study them, it is often businesses who vocally oppose pedestrianization plans until experiencing the benefits that increased footfall brings to their business.
On this day, I witnessed and experienced the kind of sidewalk atmosphere that invites me to take a pause and have a cup of coffee and just enjoy the mood; that has me passing by interesting shops and making a mental note to return for holiday shopping or a special treat for myself. It’s this block that I will think about (and walk to) when I am anywhere in this neighborhood and might want to just relax on a public bench for a bit in between errands.
It’s late November now as I write this, the mood and weather decidedly shifting from late Autumn to early winter. We’ve recently had our first snows and the festive spirit of the season can be seen and felt around the city under what are frequent grey skies. I look forward to returning to Ulica Świętokrzyska, perhaps to find a unique gift for one of my family members from one of the local shops there, and definitely to take a moment to pause and enjoy a beverage and the scenes of the sidewalk.
-Annika Lundkvist, Editor at Pedestrian Space