No bicycle lanes for car-clogged Athens

Imagine a pedestrian-friendly central Athens, not filled with traffic or the wild din of honking horns. The sidewalks are wide and well-maintained and they are full of pedestrians. Gone are the days of heavy smog and the old traffic restriction zones as the bicycle has proved to be the second most popular means of getting around downtown after public transport. This image would correspond to reality if the Network for Sustainable Mobility and the Bicycle, a local government initiative, had not run up against the reluctance of the central administration to spend money creating bicycle lanes in the capital and other towns. One after another, large European cities have adopted the bicycle as a basic mode of transport, a part of what the experts call «sustainable mobility.» Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Strasbourg and London are all discouraging cars from their centers, freeing up space for pedestrians and cyclists who can now get around town more easily. In Greece, by contrast, there seems to be no hope for an end to the domination of the automobile, even though cars move at an average of no more than 8 km/h in rush hour, compared with an average of 18 km/h for bicycles.