On May 10th at noon, thousands of people in 33 cities in Greece went on a bicycle ride protesting against the lack of bicycle roads and paths in the country and demanding better quality of life for everyone.
The thousands of cyclists that flooded the cities of Greece, including the capital city of Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, and Chania, decided to join a Pan-Hellenic protest showing the rest of the citizens that their rights are ignored and neglected.
Pedestrians and car drivers that were not informed about the organized demonstration on bicycles were shocked seeing thousands of bicycles passing by.
In Athens alone, 5000 people participated in the event. As it was expected, numerous cues, slogans, and happenings accompanied the long ride in all big cities of Greece. A colorful patch of people surged the city centers biking leisurely and enthusiastically. Men and women of all ages and types, elder people, youngsters and kids overflowed the central boulevards, enjoying a hard to find freedom in the cities, dominated by cars.
Cyclists protest in Chania and Heraklion
Cyclists in Heraklion
The Bicycle rally and demonstration was very successful in Chania and Heraklion in Crete, attracting hundred of cyclists who also wanted to protest against the lack of bicycle roads on the island of Crete. The participants asked the municipalities and prefectures to:
Protect cyclists and bikers by stricter laws
Construct bicycle paths throughout the island (and country) in order to reduce pollution from vehicles
Include cyclist arm signals in the Official Driving Code of the Department of Transportation
Encourage people to leave their cars at home and use their bicycles more, promoting the cycling culture which is predominant in other European and American countries.
Greece and the island of Crete as well feature just a few bicycle paths in the country, while the overall cycling education and culture are limited and almost non-existent.
In Chania the cyclists ended their rally at the building of the municipality, where they painted bicycles and wrote cues and slogans on the walls and nearby streets. The Municipality of Chania refuses, according to locals, to implement the environmental study and build bicycle paths in the prefecture. Again, after the rally, the Mayor of the city refused to comment on the accusations and demonstrations.
Overall this bicycle demonstration was deemed a success since it is estimated that approximately 10,000 cyclists took to the streets to protest in this unusual way in many cities and towns of Greece. More rallies are planned this coming month in Athens and other major cities.