Study finds cycle lanes feasible

Athens is one of the few European capitals to lack a single bicycle lane, and cyclists who brave the city’s streets do so at the risk of life and limb. But a study by traffic experts conducted on behalf of the Transport Ministry has found that a small network of bicycle lanes could work in the perennially congested city. A team headed by a National Technical University of Athens professor of transportation planning, Thanos Vlastos, has come up with proposals for a route joining the city center with the southern coastal suburbs. It would start from Pangrati, at the Kallimarmaro – the renovated ancient stadium where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896 – and would wind through Vassilisis Olgas Avenue and the pedestrian network of Dionysiou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou streets to Eptachalkou Street. From there, the route would continue down Thessalonikis Street – along the lines of the Kifissia-to-Piraeus electric railway – and the final stretch of the Ilissos River to Neo Faliron and the Saronic coast, where a series of sports and leisure complexes are under construction ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games. A second route would start in the Thiseion area, west of the Acropolis, leading along Ermou and Athinas streets to Omonia and then continuing north in the direction of Aghiou Meletiou Street in Patissia. The main problem should be the section linking what is one of the capital’s busiest squares with Aghiou Meletiou, as the obvious route would be along Tritis Septemvriou Street – which becomes heavily congested with traffic at peak hours. However, Vlastos believes it would be feasible to create a separate bicycle lane alongside the street, which is currently taken up by illegally parked cars – provided the government is prepared to shoulder the political cost of such a move.

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