Citizens’ group for clear sidewalks

A citizens’ initiative called Passenger, which is lobbying for the improvement of our public transport network with the aim of decongesting our streets, is a commendable campaign and one that we should all rally behind. The initiative purports to establish «viable mobility» – a phrase that may sound rather nonsensical to those who have no experience of Athens, Thessaloniki and other major Greek cities. The most basic demand of any city-dweller is the ability to walk along the sidewalk unhindered. But in Greece’s reality, this theoretically simple task is a major trial, a daily tribulation, sometimes even an impossible mission or extreme sport! The parking of cars and motorbikes on sidewalks (even in front of the entrances to the garages of residential blocks) is an established strategy rather than an exception in Greece. As a result, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road, with all the dangers that this entails, or to zig-zag through the spaces between parked cars. Thanks to work carried out ahead the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the capital managed to acquire some ramps at certain critical junctions on sidewalks to facilitate the wheelchair-bound. But despite the creation of bus lanes to decongest our roads, we have yet to see police effectively monitoring violations by motorists and, despite warnings against illegal parking, we rarely see traffic police towing off double- or triple-parked cars. Perhaps we should send a state delegation abroad on a fact-finding trip to see how modern cities operate.