OPINION

Freeing the system

Encouraged by the self-restraint displayed by most Athenian motorists – there were, of course, a few cases of supreme indifference – in the first few days of a crackdown on illegal parking, the traffic police are bravely extending their campaign across Attica in cooperation with municipal authorities in an optimistic attempt to free up the «system.» They plan to free up the bottlenecks, to increase the average speed of the various means of public transport and to restore the occupied sidewalks to their intended users – pedestrians. Apart from the extension of the Metro network, the necessary prerequisite for this campaign’s success is its effective continuation and not the eventual easing off which generally accompanies all such pompously and decisively announced campaigns – and this doesn’t mean a couple of weeks of persistence, but the continuous and permanent mobilization of the assigned teams… Naturally, however, there remains a practical problem: It has been estimated that more than 110,000 cars contribute to congestion in central Athens, with the number of legal parking places (in parking lots and designated parking areas) not exceeding 50,000. This means that motorists should leave their cars at home when heading into the center or that more parking spaces must be created (including at the long-promised garages at Metro stations on the city’s outskirts), otherwise congestion will continue to plague key thoroughfares. Another solution would be restricted parking for short periods.