OPINION

Pedestrian concerns

We have got used to referring to our city as one that excludes disabled citizens from its streets. But this is not entirely true – it actually excludes all citizens, whether they have disabilities or not. And this is something we appear to have accepted as we uncomplainingly negotiate all manner of obstacles cluttering our way – promotional billboards, potholes, cement columns, trash piles, mud heaps, metal poles, boxes, scooters, cars… We brush by car bumpers to get across the road at pedestrian crossings, we shuffle along walls to avoid motorcycles zooming along sidewalks to short-cut traffic, we hop onto the road now and again due to the clutter of loose paving slabs and cement blocks on what are supposed to be sidewalks. And because concrete facts are always more convincing than theories, let us cite the conclusions of a study by the Athens Medical School: Six in 10 of the city’s sidewalks are occupied by parked cars while five in 10 are not paved or have loose or broken paving stones. Furthermore, 50 percent have potholes, 46 percent are littered with abandoned household items (like mattresses, washing machines, television sets and radiators) and 25 percent have had their paving stones split by uprooted trees. No wonder Athenians don’t see their city as a common space they share with fellow citizens anymore, but rather as an area they have to go through to get where they are going…