OPINION

The way out of traffic jams

There are many «wise» men dealing with the perennial traffic problems of Athens, but I am afraid they are driving either blindfolded or they do not understand the problem. Traffic is a complicated matter which appears to become an insolvable problem when the defining factors are anarchy and obstinacy demonstrated by the drivers. Traffic in Athens will be greatly improved if certain measures are immediately enforced, until well-planned major works are implemented in the long run. Such remedial action dictates that: 1. Bus lanes become what they are meant to be, with the only exception of motorcycles, which must be permitted to use them and circulate in them only. 2. Pedestrian crossings must be repainted and fulfill the purpose of serving pedestrians and provide safe passage. Any vehicle encroaching on the well-marked pedestrian crossing must be considered as having violated the red light at that point and be penalized accordingly. 3. No parking or stopping should be allowed in sections of roads with heavy traffic. 4. Commercial loading and unloading must be limited to hours of low traffic volume during early morning and late evenings. 5. Traffic lights must be adjusted with regard to duration to reflect the traffic volumes of the direction they serve. 6. Drivers must be warned that when found in an intersection while the red light of their traveling direction is on, they will be considered violators. In this way, bottlenecks will be avoided. 7. Loading and unloading of taxis should only be allowed in designated areas. 8. Police must know the traffic rules and be willing to enforce them. 9. Penalties must be enforced. The police must remove the violator’s driving license on the spot, and he or she must pay the appropriate fine to reclaim it. Repeat offenders must pay increased fines every time. At a point the registration of their vehicle should be refused. 10. Serious offenders, e.g. those driving while intoxicated, should be jailed and appear in court for proper punishment. Removal of driving privileges for six months should be the minimum sentence. These measures require no major works or expenses. What is needed is a demonstration of will by those in responsible positions. V. Zarboulas, via e-mail