NEWS

New Athens malls generate traffic jams

Despite their size, the malls of Athens do not provide the appropriate infrastructure to accommodate all the shoppers they attract. Roads are congested and cars are parked everywhere, while public transport remains mostly empty. In Maroussi, department stores, big outlets including Media Markt, indoor shopping centers such as The Mall Athens, multiplex cinemas and hospitals massively increase the traffic on Kifissias Avenue. Officials from The Mall would not reveal what they said were confidential figures about the number of vehicles that use the 2,100-space car park, but they did tell Kathimerini that they had in excess of 12 million visitors in 2008. Although the area is well served by buses, most visitors prefer to use their own cars. Illegal parking is a serious problem. Attica Traffic Police Chief Constantinos Koumantanos cited the chaotic traffic when two electronic goods stores opened recently on Syngrou Avenue. A Maroussi traffic police official complained of traffic jams all week round because of the malls and other buildings, including ministries, the Helexpo exhibition center, offices and businesses. «And lots of people come here to leave their cars so they can use the metro or the suburban railway,» he explained. Cars parked illegally on sidewalks also block pedestrian access, «despite the permanent presence of traffic police staff,» he said. In 2008 (from January to November), 21,150 parking fines were issued in the area.