Athens: Obstacle Course for Pedestrians

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Ioanna Dimitringiou, a resident of Athens, expressed her frustration with the lack of pedestrian accessibility in the city. She described dodging parked cars on sidewalks and walking in the street near Syntagma Square due to overflowing café tables.

Social media is rife with complaints about Athens's inadequate sidewalks, rude drivers, and sidewalk encroachment by restaurants. An Instagram account, @batman_for_athens, highlights the problem, showing videos of pedestrians being forced into the road.

Research from Athens Polytechnic reveals that four out of ten restaurants illegally occupy public spaces. Despite laws protecting pedestrians and an international charter signed by Greece, these regulations are often not enforced. Sidewalks are often too narrow for wheelchair users and the visually impaired, with 37% measuring less than a meter wide.

Economist Athanassios Frontistis founded the Facebook group "Give Back the Sidewalks to Pedestrians." He believes the problem lies in unenforced laws and the lack of awareness about sidewalk regulations.

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Frontistis and his collective have campaigned for accessible public spaces, citing a serious incident involving his wife's injury on a faulty sidewalk. They have appealed to high-ranking officials, but municipalities have failed to respond. Frontistis emphasizes that Athens's lack of pedestrian accessibility is "unworthy of a European capital."

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