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Greece Plans Public Shared Bicycle Program, Electric Rides Too

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(Photo by Eurokinissi/Fani Tripsani)

ATHENS – Offering incentives for people to buy electric cars, Greece's New Democracy government, wanting the country to go green faster even while allowing developments to spread, plans to create a nationwide shared public bicycle scheme.

That has proved effective in other countries in which users can rent bicycles and drop them off at other points for others to then have access to, and the plan will include electric bicycles, said Kathimerini.

Environment Minister Kostas Skrekas, speaking at an event by the diaNEOsis think tank on energy and the climate crisis, said that it would cost 30-million-euros ($36.06) million.

It would also provide for installation of charging stations in cities – and not just Athens and Thessaloniki, the country's capital and second-largest city, but other spots as well but didn't say if that includes islands and popular tourist venues.

He noted that 10 percent of cars in Greece now already are electric or hybrids allowing switching between gasoline and electric power although charging stations are few and far between.

He didn't say how it would be made safe to use bicycles on streets where sidewalks lare cluttered with trees and other objects, forcing people to walk in the streets and where drivers routinely use curbside lanes designated for buses and taxis – or where bicycle lanes could be put in the cities.

Skrekas said the electric bicycles and cars are prongs in a program to move Greece away from using the 19th Century idea of coal to create electricity, with relatively little use yet of either wind or solar power although Greece is one of the world's sunniest countries.

Public transport buses are still gasoline powered and more have been ordered instead of using electric powered vehicles although the idea of going green electric is being stepped up.

In November, 2020, Volkswagen said it would provide electric vehicles on the tiny Dodecanese island of Astypalea, replacing 1500 gas-powered vehicles installing charging stations, bringing in e-scooters and e-bikes, and replacing buses with ride-sharing and car-sharing solutions, said Car and Driver.

VW CEO Herbert Diess and Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis signed a memorandum of understanding at a virtual event for the project on the island that has only 1,334 residents but is favored by tourists who prefer out-of-the way quiet places.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he wants to move the country away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy although there aren't major plans to use solar power yet.

"I strongly believe in partnerships. Governments can't deliver on their own and the private sector isn't the answer to every question," said Mitsotakis, who also joined the event, said the Reuters news agency in a report.

Astypalea has little public transport available, only two buses and coal is the major source of power in 2020.

The project, which will initially run for six years, will see part of the island's vehicle rental service transformed into a ride-sharing service offering electric cars and e-scooters. Commercial and public sector vehicles will also be switched to electric, it was reported, but no details were given.

"Our long-term goal is climate-neutral mobility for everyone," Diess said. "And with the Astypalea project we will explore how to realize that vision already today,” as major car manufacturers are now moving toward an electric future.