Thursday, 28 May 2009

The eternal issue - traffic chaos in Athens and Greece

An eternal matter of debate and discussion is the traffic chaos in the cities, particularly in Athens and Thessaloniki although since the construction of the Athens subway prior to the Olympic Games 2004, the situation has improved somewhat. Suffice it to say in the center of Athens there is a system whereby car registration plates ending in an even number are allowed one day and on alternative days cars with plates ending in an odd number are permitted. That is a fair indication of the congestion. Indeed I have been told by Athenians that on a bad day it can take two and a half to three hours to cross the city. In Thessaloniki the situation is on a more minor scale but rush hour can be extremely frustrating. However, like Athens, the long promised subway is under construction and this should alleviate the chaos somewhat in a few years.

Then the whole issue of parking is another one. Thessaloniki, also on account of its geographical position (shaped like a horseshoe around the Thermaikos gulf) has major difficulties. The city simply has inadequate public parking. This mixed with narrow streets, a blind eye to double parking, parking at bus stops, parking on every pavement, causes real frustration for many - the mother with the stroller, the handicapped in wheelchairs - a total disaster. And if and when you are unfortunate enough to get a ticket the matter is an even bigger disaster. The police also unscrew your registration plates and you cannot drive your car for - I think - 40 days even when paying the fine.

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