Driving in Athens is no fun. We don’t have a car, but we did for six months last year (good-bye dear Opel). Traffic is bad. There are few arteries into downtown. The infrastructure is old. Urban sprawl goes unchecked, meaning more people are driving in from suburban locations. There are many one-way streets. Not a few Greeks drive with an almost suicidal vigor (one part machismo, one part neglect). And, to add to the chaos, four-wheelers, dune buggies, motorized rickshaws, and old scooters (that top out at 20 mph) share the road with cars, trucks, buses, trolleys, and motorcycles. Driving in Athens is a bear! All that said, I’m not sure if the following article is good news or bad news for people like Kristin, Sofia, and I (pedestrians).
Athens pedestrians overtaking motorists
There are currently about 2.8 million cars on the streets of Athens, which has about 4 million residents. According to transport experts, the city has only a couple of years to solve its congestion problem before traffic grinds to a halt.
The rate of increase in the number of cars on the streets will mean that the average motorist will not be able to move at a speed greater than 5 or 6 kilometers per hour in many parts of Athens by 2011, Yiannis Golias, former general secretary at the Transport and Communications Ministry, told Skai. According to Golias, certain parts of the capital are already so congested that the average pedestrian’s walking speed is faster than the average speed of a motorist.
Traffic congestion in Athens is increasing at such a rate that pedestrians soon will be able to get from A to B faster than motorists in many parts of the capital, a former government transport official has told Skai.