No quick-fix for traffic jams

Transport experts have called on the government to move ahead with radical measures if they want to improve Athens’s traffic problems, rather than implementing ineffective quick-fix solutions. Yiannis Handanos, president of the Hellenic Institute of Transportation Engineers, told Kathimerini that building new roads is not the way to ease traffic problems and help to rid the city of the brown cloud hanging over it. «It is estimated that 150,000 new cars are added to Athens roads every year. No matter how many roads are built, they will continue to jam up at the same rate. The secret is to find new solutions,» he said. «If each person is allowed to drive around as they like, then traffic problems will never be solved as there will not be any infrastructure able to handle all these cars.» A large number of Athens’s 2.5 million cars are expected to return to the capital this weekend as the summer holiday period starts to wind down. At a conference in Thessaloniki yesterday, experts highlighted successful techniques adopted in other large cities. Officials in Dublin have introduced the strict supervision of bus lanes in a move that has resulted in fewer residents resorting to their cars. Other cities, such as Prague, have vastly expanded their public transport networks. Meanwhile, in Beijing yesterday, the government embarked on a four-day experiment to see if taking 1.3 million cars off the city’s streets will substantially reduce air pollution at next year’s Olympic Games. The ban involves allowing cars access to the city center based on an odd-even license plate number system. According to initial reports, the measure had limited impact, with smog in the city remaining thick.