The overambitious plan of Athens Municipality the Great Walk of Athens turned into the Great Traffic Jam on Monday morning, when local authorities decreased the six lanes of Panepistimiou Avenue into three for vehicles including public transport means like buses and trolley buses.
Central roads in downtown Athens but also vertical ones were endless jammed. Chaos. Motorists and commuters on the verge of a nervous breakdown. All this because the Great Walk plan and the overhaul of the historic and commercial center was not well thought and executed.
Limiting access to one of the main avenues in the city center led to endless jam not only the city center but also surrounding streets. The jam for those trying to reach the city center from the south suburbs started 4 km away.
An unbearable situation.
Early in the morning, those who tried to cross the center with their vehicles found themselves in front of an unprecedented traffic jam, since the main roads of the city had been substantially decommissioned in order to facilitate exploring walks for tourists, who now also face the dilemma: Ketchup or Mustard?
— Grigoris Thanasoulas (@gregthanas) June 15, 2020
Commuters needed hours to reach their work place in down town or in areas where they have to cross downtown Athens to reach it.
Angry drivers swore and honked and some used the time their car was immobilized to post tweets with poisonous attacks against the mayor of Athens and those who designed the Great Walk plan.
Red roads: Traffic jam at 10:40 Monday morning.
Three out of six lanes on Panepistimiou Avenue are now closed for traffic and allowed only for pedestrians and bikers.
One important thing the Great Walk designers overlooked is that bus and trolley bus stop three lanes away from the pavement where the stops are or people need to wait standing in the middle of the avenue.
An not only on Panepistimiou Avenue
The Athens Great Kitsch: pedestrian zones painted red and bicycle zones painted yellow.
The idea to pedestrianize the Athens city center -following examples of other mayor European cities is not new. However, it needs more parameters than just limiting the car traffic.
Commuters need alternatives to leave their car at home and go downtown with public transport means. They need frequent routes of public transport means and easy access to the metro.
Dense schedules of buses that have been largely abandoned from the center since 2012 and their schedules have been decreased to just one bus every half an hour.
The tram, the connects the south suburbs to the city center, has been halted from reaching Syntagma in the last couple of years. Its end station is almost 1 km away from the next metro station.
There are hardly “park and ride” options near the metro stations.
And anyway, Athenians have been advised to avoid public transport means during the pandemic.
The icing of cake -as no other expected – is that the Athens overhaul has absolutely no provisions for people with disabilities, their wheelchairs or their cars, as a disabled activist denounces on a news website.
That’s right. We want to be Europe but according to our own standards…
The new ‘interventions” are pilot implemented. The Great Walk can quickly turn into the Great Fail for the Mayor of Athens, Costas Bakoyiannis.
PS OK, some may think we are against “progress” but without metro station in our suburb located 6 km from Syntagma Square, we need 40-50 minutes to reach downtown with public transport means. We used to need 20 minutes, when the world was still in order.