Perceptions regarding social life are often constructed based on people’s interests. There is an old Greek saying which states, “the law is the workers’ right.” Nowadays, this saying has been so generalized that it seems that “the law is anyone’s right.”
During the winter, the pedestrian zone “Palas” was transformed into a catwalk where traffic wardens did their best to facilitate several ministers that were arriving at Voukourestiou Street with their expensive black cars.
Dionysiou Areopagitou seems to be this summer’s catwalk. Several people chose to take this street to visit either the Acropolis Museum or Herodeion. The ones who boast for facilitating pedestrianizations and the connection of Athens’s archaeological sites are the ones who negate the pedestrian zones with their actions.
It is not unreasonable that many shopkeepers see all these examples around them and bow to arbitrages. On Chatzichristou Street many shopkeepers place large objects and cones in front of their shops, and sometimes they even leave stools and have someone sit outside the store. Almost no one dares to park in these spots, as it is unlikely to find their car unharmed afterwards.
Car drivers fortunately don’t use Makrygianni Street, whereas two-wheel motor vehicles seem not to obey any restrictions. On Amalias Street there are buses, opposite to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, that pick up and leave tourists throughout the day. During the summer heat the drivers even leave their buses’ engines on to avoid turning off the air-conditioners.
On Valaoritou Street cars are prohibited. Nevertheless, at night there are some drivers that decide to take a shortcut and use this street.
If this is what is happening in some of the most central areas of the city (we won’t even start about what is happening on busy Ermou Street), think about what may happen in other tourist areas. Lately, we hear a lot of people in authority talking about cultural tourism. We should consider that cultural tourism requires culture in our everyday life. It requires respecting the institutions and the people around us.
Are there any pedestrian zones in the city you live where people tend to neglect the prohibitions and misuse their vehicles?
Original article, originally published in Greek, here.
Credits: Data and Images linked to sources