This is for those, who’d like a good conversation opener with a Polish potential business partner: Polish people like to discuss Polish logistics, especially the state of their roads.
You see, roads in Poland used to be abysmal (see here for proof), but over last 20 years there has been a definite effort towards improvement – and some people definitely think it wasn’t enough. If you’re thinking of transporting goods in Poland, you need to be aware of Polish roads and their state. This is why I’ve prepared this short overview of roads in Poland; you can also find useful resources at the end of this post.
Highways: motorways (A1, A2 etc.) and expressways (S1, S2 etc.) – there is about 1300 km (830 miles) of motorways and 1100 km (710 miles) in Poland. The motorways mostly connect the capitol, Warsaw, and Poznań with Germany on the West and they are almost brand new. So if you want to transit goods to these cities, you almost have it made (look below for transit in cities). There are some differences between the two highway types, but they mostly concern speed limits and which roads can cross with them. What’s important that they’re in good shape and allow for easy travel and cargo transport. Remember to count in the toll charges as there is a toll on highways in Poland!
A-roads – These roads connect Polish North with the South and East with the West – from Łódź to Bielsko-Biała and from Germany to Kraków. It’s advisable to keep to them as much as possible as these are in a good state. This, obviously, can’t happen if you think of planning a route that includes some of the smaller cities. There is quite a bit of local traffic, which can prolong travel times.
B-roads – They can range from decent to very bad and should you take them, I’d advise you to plan extensively using the resources I’ve provided at the end.
Country roads – twisty, uneven and very, very narrow, these are a lot of fun in the summer (provided you have a good suspension). They’re one of Polish hidden gems as they allow you to experience the countryside like nothing else. Just don’t think of them as means of transport if you can help it (but then, which country roads are good for moving cargo).
Cities – roads in cities can range from very good (main roads in Warsaw) to not-so-very good (as in Gdańsk). The bypass roads around larger cities are usually very good, but can range from very straightforward to complex Escher-like mazes even the best road mapping programs can’t crack.
You can also refer to this map illustrating the state of the roads made by Polish drivers. Its best quality is that it’s very current – the drivers update it weekly with new information. You can also find this map of roads and their state useful. It’s in Polish, but you only need to know that green means the road is usable, yellow is for roads that are being built, orange – for roads still in the bidding process and red – for roads that are being prepared. You can also use the best mapping apps for Android or iPhone, but keep in mind that they don’t always recognise which roads are built already, and which are not.
If you’re interested in road construction, you can read a report of PZPB, Polish association of construction employers (in English).
Of course, if you don’t want to worry about Polish roads all the time, you can move more of your communications online – problem solved!