Niepolomice, Poland showcase

Urban Ecosystem Restoration Measures


The Vistula Bicycle Path project in Niepołomice, located in the Małopolska region of Poland, addresses several challenges, including investment pressure around the Vistula embankment, ecological corridor interruption concerns, car traffic pressure on Natura 2000 areas, and the absence of legal regulations for bicycle path locations on embankments.

With a population of 32,781 and spanning 96.3 km2, Niepołomice is characterized by its significant industrial zone and the largest forest complex protected under Natura 2000.

The project involves the creation of the Vistula Bicycle Path, connecting urban and industrial zones with rural areas and the Natura 2000 protected region. The initiative revitalizes the Vistula embankment, emphasizing ecological functions and biodiversity conservation. Provisions in local development plans guided the project, emphasizing the preservation of green areas along watercourses for bicycle infrastructure.

Regular meetings and consultations among stakeholders, including the administration of provincial roads, Polish Water Survey, National Forests, and Niepołomice municipality, facilitated multisectoral collaboration. The financing, totaling €1.2 million, for a 19.5 km bicycle path along the embankments came from the administration of provincial roads. Additional investments were made by the Polish Water Survey, while the municipality provided a permeable surface parking lot. The municipality also acquired missing plots.

The achieved outcomes include reduced car traffic in the city center and near Natura 2000 areas on weekends, increased bicycle traffic with a new parking lot near the Vistula embankment, and the removal of invasive species and abandoned waste.

Next steps involve extending the bicycle path to connect Niepołomice with Krakow, positively impacting air quality and encouraging outdoor activities. Key elements for success include an amendment to allow path construction on the embankment, close collaboration with funding bodies and embankment owners, and providing necessary infrastructure for drivers. Future improvements could focus on enhanced cooperation with National Forests managing the Natura 2000 area.

The project serves as a good practice model, inspiring replication in other municipalities and highlighting the potential for sustainable urban planning and environmental conservation.

Name of the measure: 
Vistula Bicycle Path