Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quirky Poland: Parking

It was something I noticed immediately as we first ventured out from our apartment in Wrocław.  Cars parked... on the sidewalk?!  Is that even legal?  I wondered if that was just a quirk of this particular Polish city. 

In the coming days, I would see this practice throughout the city.  The cars tended to be lined up as if they were parked normally on the side of the street.  However, I would occasionally come across cars that were parked in any direction that happened to fit in the space between the car in front and behind.  Were Polish drivers just bad parkers?  Maybe they don't have to learn parallel parking to pass their driver's test like I did in Washington state? Regardless, I planned on being extra vigilant when walking with the kids to watch out for cars on the road and the sidewalk.  This blog post even caught official signs for how one should park. I never noticed these signs in Wrocław though.

During our stay in Poland, we took two side-trips to other cities.  We took the train from Wrocław up to Gdansk and spent a few days there.  Then, we took the train from there to Krakow for a few days before we headed back to Wrocław.  Same thing!  Some Sidewalks even had lines painted to indicate separate parking spots. That gave me a couple other data points to show that it was more widespread than just Wrocław.

I looked up the parking laws in Poland (Parkowanie na chodnikutranslation) and it appears it is all legal.  So long as the vehicle is under 2.5 tons and you leave a walkway of at least 1.5 m (along with some other caveats], it is perfectly legal.  It is even legal to park partway on the sidewalk and roadway (as you see some cars at odd angles, as in the above photo) so long as the portion of the car in the roadway doesn't block traffic!  There is even a nuance to the applicability of no parking signs.
In Poland 'no parking' sign applies also to the sidewalk unless there is a notice below that reads 'Nie dotyczy chodnika". 
'Nie dotyczy chodnika' means, 'Not applicable to the sidewalk'

In Seattle, on the other hand, it's definitely not legal. Don't try this at home.

11.72.320 - Planting strip No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on a planting strip unless the vehicle bears a special placard or license plate issued under RCW Chapter 46.19
11.72.360 - Sidewalk No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on or over a sidewalk, whether constructed or not.

It is a fascinating example that evinces how different cultures can evaluate risk of the same activity and come to completely different laws and practices.

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