Thessaloniki, Greece, was one of the cities that participated in the 7th Nationwide Bicycle race, that took place May 11, 2014. Many people in several other cities sent their own message by joining this spectacular event.
Thessaloniki, Athens, Volos, Amaliada, Argos, Drama, Heraklion, Zacharo, Thassos, Ierapetra, Ioannina, Karystos, Katerini, Kerkyra, Kozani, Lamia, Larisa, Missolonghi, Mytilene, Molos, Agios Konstantinos, Kamena Vourla, Nafplio, Patras, Preveza, Ptolemaida, Rethymno, Trikala, Skala Oropou, Chalkida and Chios joined their voices for the recognition of bicycles as an equal means of transport in the cities they live. What these people want is to have certain infrastructures and rights, such as safe bicycle paths, cycle lanes, traffic calmed roads, parking areas and the facilitation of public transport use with their bikes.
The message that Thessaloniki’s bicycle friends wrote on Facebook was the following.
"The mayors may change but the claims remain."
"Cyclists from places all over Greece will pour out on the streets on May 11th at 5 p.m. in order to demand their right to use their bikes and limit the car use. Although this year the bicycle race overlaps with the electoral period, it has nothing to do with an electoral campaign. During those campaigns many promises are made regarding the improvement of the bike’s circulation in the city. Unfortunately, the majority of those promises are never fleshed out. Nevertheless, we stay undeterred and keep asserting the implicit: cycling infrastructure, combined use of the bike and public transport, road safety, and dignity towards pedestrians and cyclists.
Especially in Thessaloniki, all new projects associated with the bicycles stay unfulfilled. What the citizens want is to transfer the cycle lane that now is along the pedestrianised part of the waterfront and create a safe bicycle path on the right side of the road - Niki’s Avenue. The existing network is not safe and isn’t protected by the illegally parked cars. At the same time, there have been no further extensions of this network to other neighborhoods or Municipalities. It is still forbidden to carry your bike on city buses and there is no positive provision for the future subway, if it will ever be completed. Bike theft happens on a routine basis and little attention is paid by the authorities.
Generally, no attempt has been made to educate the citizens and inform them about sustainable mobility. There is a need for the assignment of a foregone speed limit of 30km/h. The departmental pedestrianisation of the historic centre of the city is also something that should continue, and moreover several other parts of Thessaloniki should also be pedestrianised. There are many measures that ought to be taken into consideration towards a more sustainable way of life in Thessaloniki. We also want to point out that there should be an installation of a single system of bike renting in the whole agglomeration of Thessaloniki."
The Nationwide Bicycle Race is organised by the cycling groups of the city and have no financial, political or party support. It is not organized for the self-promotion of any group.
How would you describe the situation of the bicycle use in the city you live? Are there any similar problems? How do people react?
The original article, published in Greek, can be found here.
Credits : Images by Eleni Vraka. Data linked to sources.