ATHENS – Trying to walk on sidewalks in Athens is an obstacle course of avoiding extended door steps, trees, motorbikes, potholes and even cars parked on them with impunity, but now Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis wants to make them friendly – and safe – for walkers.
After creating the experimental Grand Walk that reduce vehicular avenues foer wider walking areas through the heart of the city, the municipality plans to restore and upgrade sidewalks that are difficult or dangerous to navigate, often forcing people to walk in the streets.
The 24-million euro ($28.45 million) project, with the slogan “safe and functional sidewalks are not a luxury but a self-evident right,” will include what were called eco-friendly walking avenues.
It's part of a series of large-scale projects implemented by the City of Athens under the title Culture of Everyday Life,” said Kathimerini, as Bakoyannis – who worked to put a fountain in Omonia Square – has spread beautification projects across the city, opposed by some who fear it will bring gentrification.
The project is scheduled to be completed in two years and foresees the creation of 410 new sidewalks, made of modern materials, catering to the needs of pedestrians, including the disabled, the report said.
Existing sidewalks will be widened to facilitate the planting of greenery, although that could lessen available walking space such as is the problem on many sidewalks now which force walkers to veer off into the streets.