A request by the police force on the small, vehicle-free Saronic Gulf island of Hydra to allow them to use motorcycles while carrying out their duties has sparked a furor of criticism that such a move could form a dangerous precedent.
“Satisfying this particular demand could lead to an abuse of the privilege that would harm one of the strongest advantage of this island, which is that vehicles are forbidden,” Hydra Mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis told Kathimerini on Thursday.
Popular among artists and intellectuals looking for a quiet retreat, the holiday island of Hydra has a ban on all vehicles, with just a few extraordinary exceptions. Most transport in the steep, scrambling town – including for construction materials – is carried out by donkey or mule.
“I will be asking Greek Police headquarters to consider the alternative of horse-mounted police,” Koukoudakis added.
The police’s request concerns a license for just two cross-country motorcycles, which law enforcement authorities say will only be used in cases where human life is at risk or violations are committed against archaeological sites or the environment.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the municipal council and head of the island’s Association of Ecologist has argued that any extraordinary circumstances can be addressed by already licensed vehicles belonging to the municipal authority, the fire service and the local hospital, but also by the coast guard.
Manolis Tsakiris sent a letter cosigned by numerous eminent personalities to the Ministry of Culture demanding that it uphold Hydra’s protected status.
ICOMOS, a nongovernmental group dedicated to the preservation of monuments and sites of historical interest, is also opposing the idea, arguing that the decision could lead to an uncontrolled explosion of vehicle use, which would jeopardize 6,000-year-old antiquities on the island.