It’s a long walk that will change the Greek capital and one of the biggest urban transitions. The “Great Walk of Athens”, one of the largest urban initiatives ever held in the capital, begins after the plan was approved by the Athens Municipal Council on Monday. “During this period, a number of cities around the world, from London and Berlin to Bogota, have decided to take a series of emergency measures to deal with the pandemic,” Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis told Monday’s city council meeting. “We want more public space so we can practice social distancing, as well as to give priority to pedestrians, bicycles and new means of transport, and to safeguard public health and the environment by not allowing roads to be flooded again by cars,” he added, insisting that there is a deep need among citizens to live in a people-friendly city. The initiative will commence on a “pilot basis” at the end of June, with traffic regulations being implemented immediately and in the weeks ahead welcoming citizens to the Athenian centre again. The traffic effects of the imposed changes were based on detailed studies taken by the National Technical University of Athens. The aim of the initiative is to: \tSignificantly increase public space and decongestion on public transport \tPromote the historic centre The routes will unite (for the first time) the historic neighbourhoods of Athens, its world-class archaeological treasures and return the city to the service of residents and visitors, changing their daily lives for the better. The vital project- totalling a 6.8 km- begins immediately, with the majority of its implementation completed by 2022. The historical areas of Plaka and the streets of Herodes Atticus, Mitropoleos, Ermou and Athens will be converted into areas free from private cars. The Great Walk of Athens will be visible and open to the citizens from the first day it starts to be implemented. The pilot implementation of the project will initially be done with gentle road configurations through signage and colouring of the roads, as well as the installation of plants and urban equipment such as benches. In the second phase the implementation of the permanent projects will begin. This way, residents and visitors of Athens will be able to see the benefits of the largest urban initiative in its history, and evaluate the implementations and arrangements. The goal is for the historic centre of Athens to be integrated in the final phase of the project, creating the most beautiful urban landscape routes in Europe. Athens is being modernised by acquiring a new identity that connects the past with the present and its future. The mall is more easily accessible, combining shopping with leisure and entertainment. At the same time, it is easier to tour the sights and move within the city. At the same time, the project will provide new opportunities for sports, cycling and walks for residents, families, employees and pet owners. Until the overall plan is approved by all relevant authorities and the municipality conducts the necessary tenders for the implementation of most projects, the new restrictions will be implemented on a temporary basis. Detailed plan 1. Omonia Part of the Great Walk is Omonia Square, the upgrade of which has already been completed and in the coming days will be open to all. 2. Panepistimiou – Patision The renovated Panepistimiou Street will have a new bike path, 2 lanes for cars and a bus lane in the same direction, for both sides. It will also include Patision (October 28), from Omonia to Pl. Egiptou for the unification of the walk with the National Archaeological Museum. 3. Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas Zappeion is united with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Dionysiou Areopagitou is connected to the Panathenaic Stadium and the hill of Ardittos. 4. Odeon of Herodes Atticus Cars that will have access to the road include: \temergency vehicles \tpower supply vehicles \tgarbage trucks \tresidents of the area \tofficial vehicles \ttaxi's (that have been ordered) 5. Ermou Ermou Street to Ag. Asomaton and Athinas Street will be converted into car free streets (with the exception of some vehicles). 6. Syntagma In Syntagma Square, the plan includes the widening of the sidewalks on Filellinon Street, to create a new public area in the heart of the city. More specifically, the initiative will see: \t3 lanes for all vehicles \t1 new bus lane \t1 bus stop 7. Plaka The area of Plaka that connects Monastiraki with Dionysiou Areopagitou and Thissio will become an area free from private cars (with the exception of some vehicles). 8. Commercial Triangle A large section of the city centre, the so called "commercial triangle" will become an area free from private cars. 9. Mitropoleos Mitropoleos Street will become a street free from cars (with the exception of some vehicles). 10. Pl. Theatrou, Dikaiosinis Square, Pl. Korai Significant local interventions are being planned for the renovation of these three Squares, which will be a catalyst for the improvement of the surrounding areas. 11. Kerameikos, Akadimia Platonos In the second year, connections of the walk will be made to these areas.