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Why are the streets of Athens “congested”, what can be done – A transport science professor explains


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The roads that present the most significant problems are Kifissou Avenue, Vasilissis Amalias Avenue, Poseidonos and the New Athens – Corinth National Highway at the height of Skaramangas.

Along with the rhythms of everyday life that returned to normal after the summer break, the traffic problems in the Basin of Attica with many factors aggravating the problem and making commuting a real headache, especially during peak hours.

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As he tells APE-MBE, the assistant professor of the University of Western Attica and president of the Association of Greek Transport Scientists, Panagiotis Papantoniou, traffic in the Attica Basin has returned after the first ten days of September to pre-summer saturation levels.

“Traffic interference in places where the new metro stations are being built, tourism that remains at high levels as well as the drop in the price of fuel that encourages the use of cars are parameters that burden and will burden the situation even more in the coming period. The result is that, on the one hand, delays during peak hours (morning and afternoon) are longer on the main axes of the basin, on the other hand, congestion lasts for longer periods of time. explains Mr. Papantoniou and mentions that the roads with the most significant problems, according to data from the Traffic Management Center of the Attica Region, are Kifissou Avenue, Vasilissis Amalias Avenue, Poseidonos and the New Athens-Corinth National Highway in height of Scaramanga.

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Transportation experts emphasize that after the period of the pandemic in which citizens were removed from the Public transport, it is necessary to start using them again now to decongest the roads. Besides, it is deemed necessary due to the energy crisis. As the president of the Hellenic Transport Association says, there must be incentives for citizens to prefer public transport for their travel.

“The parameters that influence the choice of transport means include time, cost and comfort and since the time and comfort of MMMs cannot be changed radically, a significant change in cost can cause a strong positive shock. More specifically, a monthly MMM card at a very low price, which will subsidize travel like the fuel pass, but have different features subsidizing MMM commuters, can lead to a significant increase in MMM usage leading to multiple benefits for both commuters and and in society, at levels of economic and energy crisis, traffic as well as environmental problem. The coming energy crisis may represent an opportunity for intervention, which should not be missed.” notes Mr. Papantoniou.

The micromobility meansas experts call them bicyclesthe roller skates and similar modes of transportation, are gaining ground in many European cities, especially in recent months against the conditions of the energy crisis but also against increased traffic. In Greece, they have made their presence on the roads more intense recently and the increase in their use could be part of the solution, but this should be done within a framework of safety for users and combined with public transport as the distances they can cover are not very long.

“It is clear that both micromobility devices such as electric scooters and bicycles are means of transportation that present multiple benefits to traffic, the environment and the commuters themselves. Therefore they must be a key priority in every city. However, in order to integrate them into the transport system of a city, given that they are means that can autonomously cover relatively short distances, it is important that they be combined with other means, either Mass Transport or the Car. For this purpose, an overall plan to encourage them is needed which will give clear incentives (financial and other) for their use in commuting to work, will create safety conditions on the road network by improving the infrastructure and interventions at dangerous points, policing for their safe circulation on the road network and highlighting the benefit that cause through awareness actions”concludes Mr. Papantoniou.

Using alternative means of transport saves lives but requires caution

Limiting the use of the car for commuting can benefit the environment, the wallet and also the health.

As the general family doctor and deputy chief physician of EDOEAP reports to APE-MBE, Evangelos Frangoulisdata from studies from around the world prove the opposite relationship of cycling to obesity rates. The evidence is overwhelming. “Cycling is an excellent form of aerobic exercise, much more effective than strength and resistance exercises for weight loss. Cycling reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Cyclists live longer. Studies show that cycling reduces the risk of death from any cause by up to 41%, death from cardiovascular disease by 52% and death from cancer by 40%. Commuting cycling boosts cardiovascular health, controls cholesterol levels and prevents elevated blood pressure levels, with benefits even if adopted in middle age. It’s never too late to start”Mr. Fragoulis emphasizes speaking to APE-MPE and adds that those who travel by bicycle feel significantly less stressed than people who choose other means of transport.

The safety issue of commuting by bike or roller skates is what prevents many commuters from choosing these modes.

“Evidence shows that cycling is more popular in cities with safe, traffic-separated bike lanes and well-designed interchanges. It seems that where citizens feel at risk of using the bicycle as a means of transport, they are probably at risk. It is crucial to give cyclists space and safety!”notes Mr. Frangoulis.

However, exercising in the city must be done carefully. According to a new study, the walking on busy streets of the city and inhaling traffic fumes can negate the health benefits of exercise.

The study, conducted in London and published online Dec. 5, 2017, by The Lancet, involved 119 volunteers over the age of 60 who were either healthy or had stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or stable heart disease. They all walked for two hours at noon in two different locations. One was in a quiet part of Hyde Park, where air pollution is usually within healthy limits. The other was in a busy shopping area on Oxford Street, where levels of pollutants such as black carbon, nitrogen dioxide and fine particles regularly reach dangerous levels.

As the results showed, all volunteers benefited from a walk in the park. Their lung capacity improved within an hour, an effect that lasted for 24 hours for many people. By contrast, a walk along Oxford Street barely registered such a benefit. Exercise also improves blood flow and makes arteries less stiff. But these improvements were limited among volunteers after a walk along Oxford Street.

As Mr. Fragoulis tells APE-MBE, “As cyclists ride within a short distance of a fleet of exhaust-emitting cars and trucks, they are expected to be exposed to higher levels of carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide than pedestrians. Additionally, since cycling is more physically demanding than walking, cyclists breathe more deeply while on the road, resulting in more fine particles being inhaled. Research data from London shows that cyclists inhale more than twice the amount of carbon particles compared to pedestrians making a similar journey. Exposure could be reduced by avoiding high traffic areas, taking alternative routes where possible and using a protective respiratory mask.’

A recent study by the University of Cambridge found, concludes the Deputy Chief Physician of EDOEAP, that the health benefits of cycling – as well as walking – outweigh the risks caused by air pollution in 99% of big cities. “This is not to say that air pollution is harmless and that much more should not be done to tackle the problem at its root. Patients with asthma, heart or other respiratory diseases need special attention.”


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