Small store owners and the owners of car parks in the centre of Athens have expressed their disagreement with a municipal plan to create a large traffic-free zone in the capital, saying it would ruin their business.
The plan, dubbed the Grand Walk of Athens, which aims to encourage on-foot exploration by tourists, will be pilot-tested on Thursday.
Theodoros Reppas, the head of a newly founded committee of about 150 shop owners located on and near the main thoroughfares of Athinas and Ermou Streets (from Monastiraki to Asomaton), said there is no other area of Athens where people can find so many wholesale hardware stores, or stores selling paint, plumbing, electrical and electronic items.
“Athinas Street has always been a street of tradespeople. Their shops are focused on them,” Reppas said.
“By banning vehicles, we expel professionals from Athinas and Ermou Streets. Unless there’s someone who believes that a person can carry 10 to 20 kilos of paint, a piece of furniture, a bathtub, heavy tools and machinery, potted plants, and long pipes by metro or bus.”
The association proposes that Athinas Street should remain as is and that municipal crews should widen pavements on Ermou Street that the sidewalks be widened by removing the parking spaces.
Similar concerns are expressed by the owners of 18 closed and 27 open parking areas in the so-called commercial triangle.
“They will cause us enormous damage. No one will come to the center, people will go to the local markets or shopping malls,” says Miltiadis Kafkaletos, head of a nationwide association of owners of closed parking spaces.