I think everyone who has been to Athens has a love/hate relationship with the city. What I find most uncomfortable is the sidewalks/footpath's. They are usually broken and in disrepair. There is little point in fixing them, however, because they are always blocked by parked vehicles anyway.
Here is an editorial lifted from Jayne: Visit www.asimenia.com join Gadzooks! newsletter or browse Asimenia Jewels!
Life will soon get very difficult for the tens of thousands of drivers who park their cars on sidewalks, creating insurmountable obstacles for any pedestrian who dares to actually try using those walkways.
Right now, the situation is dire. Mothers pushing children in strollers are frequently forced to walk along the road next to passing vehicles. Elderly people must keep climbing on and off the curb. Pedestrians must weave between buildings and cars on the sidewalks, even at intersections.
And what about the nightmare endured by people with disabilities who are bold enough to try getting around Athens in their wheelchairs?
One wonders just how long this miserable situation will be tolerated, since it consistently endangers people’s lives. The indifference on the part of the authorities is astonishing, as is the outrageous tolerance on the part of the traffic police.
Inspections, if they take place at all, are few and far between, and fines for parking on sidewalks and pedestrian crossings are so paltry that they actually encourage people to disregard others’ interests.
Add to that the outrageous lack of coordination between authorities, local government and the ministries in managing what is really a fundamental problem in the capital. This failure has only made it all too clear that the state has failed to do its job.
Government ministers are always talking about improving the quality of people’s “daily lives,” yet they do do not realize that even their efforts encouraging people to use public transport will be fruitless if pedestrians cannot walk around the city without the stress and danger of too much traffic.
Let’s hope that the just-announced citizens’ incentive to establish a movement, including “people with an awareness of viable means of mobility, transport and quality of life,” will be enough to mobilize the authorities, who have so far been indifferent to the plight of so many.
- At April 03, 2006 2:22 PM Chana said...
I cannot believe what i just read. What do you mean they park in sidewalks? I have never heard of this before and i'm a bit shocked. Obviously i've never been to your neck of the woods (i wish) but i never have heard anything like it. Why do they do this?
- At April 08, 2006 4:37 PM Paros Shepherd said...
Chana, I wish I had time for a full political commentary about misguided regulation. The short version is that Athens tried to cut traffic by only allowing odd-numbered licensed cars to drive on odd numbered days and vice versa for even numbered. But soon many people had two cars, one for each day. Combine that with the normal expense of parking in any big city and you have people parking there cars everywhere, including the corners where people would normally cross the street. Consequently the pedestrian is either trapped out in the street or inside the cars on the sidewalk.