Program to promote cycling

A group of eight non-government organizations have got together to launch a series of bike-riding trips in 13 cities across the country in a bid to get Greeks peddling. Organizers said yesterday that they will run group rides every Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the year and offer participants the use of a bicycle, free of charge. The program will be held in Athens, Thessaloniki, Karditsa, Kifissia, Elefsina, Volos, Larissa and Hania, among other municipalities. «The goal is to convince young people to leave their car parked at home and to learn to use a bike,» said Vasso Kollia, general secretary of Nea Genia, an Education Ministry department that runs programs aimed at young people. «If they start to use the bike, they will then love it. We have one view of the city from behind a steering wheel and a different one when riding a bike,» Kollia told Kathimerini. Apart from Athens offering no bike paths, riders are also restricted by the hours they can carry a bike on public transport. Bicycles are not allowed on the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway during peak hours and forbidden from being taken onto the metro. Karditsa in central Greece is the country’s leader in terms of the number of pushbikes commonly used. According to a study made by the National Technical University of Athens, locals use bicycles to get around the city 22 percent of the time. Eighty percent of bicycle owners in Karditsa claim to use the mode of transport every day. Those interested in obtaining more information on the organized bike rides, which start this Sunday, can call 801.119.1900.