ATHENS – Electric vehicles, including cars and scooters, will be permitted to use a planned pedestrian path in the heart of the capital, called The Grand Walk, under a scheme to allow more social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down.
That area includes the so-called Commercial Triangle of Athens and the iconic area of Plaka, where the use of private cars will be prohibited – with exceptions.
“We want to encourage e-mobility, and in the areas where there will be traffic regulations and the circulation of private cars will be prohibited, the use of electric vehicles will be allowed,” Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said.
He was speaking to a Parliament committee on environmental protection about the plan that is due to begin this month, noting that 30 vehicle-charging stations are being prepared, while the intention is for the parking for electric cars to be free.
It's too late, however, for a major player in electric scooters, Lime, which is going to stop operating in Athens because of the long lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus and low demand seen.
While the company hasn’t made an announcement, a report in Solomon MAG, non-profit organization founded in Athens which uses media as a tool for social inclusion and change, said Lime will stop the service.
But the report added the California start-up will stay in Greece’s second-largest city, the major port of Thessaloniki, while on a downsized version and will relaunch in Rethymno on the northern part of the island of Crete.
At the same time, with use of public transportation not back to pre-COVID-19 levels, restrictions put in place to reduce traffic congestion in the downtown that were lifted during the lockdown won't be reimposed.
That means motorist can enter the middle of the city every day, ending until July 17 a requirement letting drivers with odd numbered plates allowed on odd days and even numbers on even days.
Air pollution that fell sharply during the lockdown that saw almost no traffic is rising again and the temporary suspension of the traffic ban will allow more cars on the roads spewing fumes into the air.