‘Cars are not the be-all and end-all of existence’

Vasso Fazou is a member of the Friends of the Bicycle club. She lives in Thiseion and cycles everywhere in Athens, unless she has to travel very long distances. «I’ve been cycling for 10 years, since I was 22. Everyone asks me why I cycle. They’re alarmed at the thought of being on roads full of cars. But it can be done and, once you’re used to it, it’s hard to give up. That’s because you avoid so much inconvenience and irritation. You have a specific time frame in which you can get to work that is not affected by traffic, or rallies or public transport strikes. You are completely independent of transport.» Asked whether cycling really is dangerous, given how badly many motorists drive, Fazou said: «It’s true that Greek drivers are not polite. And that is a problem for cyclists, but that can be solved. I choose routes with less traffic or sidewalks. There’s always a way.» «We have to realize in Greece that cars are not the be-all and end-all of our existence,» said Mairi Benou, who has been an active cyclist for the past five years. «There are so many cars, there’s nowhere to park and we drive round in circles to find space. Yet in a peculiar way, we are still proud just because we are at the steering wheel.» Benou remarked how strange it was that people in cold climates cycle, when Greeks, with 300 days of sunshine a year, don’t even cycle downtown. «The dream of the average Greek has become our worst nightmare. It’s time that local authorities and ministries took action to boost bicycle use in Greek cities, as they do elsewhere Europe. Besides, cycling is good for the health.»

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.