George Amyras: By his “little bicycle” 7.5% and he goes on…

Interview of journalist and member of the Municipality Council of Athens of the indepedent party “Epeimenoume Athina” George Amyras.

Do you still “insist” in the battlefield of the City Council?

Indeed we “insist” and also work in the City Council, which sometimes resembles arena and others nursery. We came into this adventure aiming to integrate voices and ideas.

What do you suggest to get the bicycle to our life in the city of Athens?

We suggest practical solutions that cost nothing and can be directly applied. Indicatively I can mention that the Municipal Police has accepted our proposal to use bicycles so men and women of the Municipal Police can move quickly and anticipate violations before they occur. Also, we recommend the bicycle renting system to residents and tourists, the creation of bicycle lanes, the bike festivities for children in squares and schools, and the declaration of days of cycling and wheelchair.

In the center of crime – as it is now called – the center of Athens, how safe can bikes be considered? Some people would reasonably think that they might be in danger by going through these neighborhoods, or even that their bikes might be stolen if left on the road.

Personally, every day I ride my bicycle for 30km around the city centre and through the most dangerous streets of the city as well. It has never occurred anything to me as to many other cyclist friends who do the same thing. The explanation is simple. We cyclists, as stray and street artists as well, are immediately accepted by any entourage we might be. To prevent stealing our bikes, we have proposed to the Mayor bike-locking parking bases in the city’s neighborhoods. We have also proposed and it has been accepted to have the stolen bikes found by the Municipal Police, photographed. The photos have already uploaded in www.cityofathens.gr and any owner of a stolen bicycle, who recognizes it, can get it back through a simple process. Up to now 400 bikes have been photographed and posted on the city’s site and my joy is great as I think the smiles of people who find their lost bikes.

Where do you suggest we should build bicycle lanes? How fast can they be built?

We recommend the creation of bicycle lanes in parks, squares and even streets by reducing the width or totally repealing 1 or 2 parking zones. To begin with, we propose two routes:

a. Connection of the Academy of Plato (via the Monastiriou str. and the pedestrian Salaminos Str.) with the Technopolis in Gazi and Zappeion (via the pedestrian streets, Ermou, St. Paul and D. Areopagitou). 7 km circular route.

b. Connection of the park of the former Gendarmerie in Mesogeion Ave. (opposite to Henry Dunant Hospital) via the Michalako-poulou str. (Rizareiou School Park). 2.5 km circular route.

These two proposed safe routes do not need any construction costs except to make the Monastiriou Str. a walkway, marking and people’s information.

When that can be done? Today! A decision is simply needed. I trust Mr. Kaminis the Mayor of Athens, who has been seriously dealing with the future of the city.

Do you feel so romantic or Don Quixote, among other factions of the City Council? To what extend other parties do agree or disagree, given that your proposals do not have a politically party “identity”?

Just because we have not a politically party “identity”, however we are deeply politicized, we are privileged to have many of our proposals accepted by the other factions of the City Council. This is our strength and our shield as well. Our presence does not threat any other party, because we have suggested actions for the city’s welfare. For example, the Pikioni’s Cafe case. All parties, Mr. Kaminis, Mr.  Kaklamanis, Mr. Sofianos, Mr. Michaloliakos, Mr. Constantinou and Ms. Portaliou have endorsed our proposal to reopen the cafe on a different basis than it used to be. To prefer a cooperation between unemployed young people with long-term unemployed over the age of 50, with low rent and the obligation to sell coffee for 1€ and all the products of a traditional coffee shop below 1€. Even in his wildest dreams could not someone imagine that in the creme de la creme of locations in Athens we can do that, putting aside the big players that being attracted by the cafe of Pikionis. But this issue has not yet been tackled; it’s an ongoing debate….

How do you feel for having Municipal Police officers on bicycles? How does this initiative go on?

We feel very good and so do the Municipal Police officers over 30 years old, who want to use bicycle. This initiative is going wonderfully. Get ready. In a few days men and women of the Municipal Police will be seen in patrols with bikes. Fortunately, the deputy mayor in charge of such Mr. Tassos Avrantinis is a clever person, very effective. He listens to our proposals and acts directly.

What about any other “green” proposals of your municipal party?

I am going to tell you a few of them in brief:

-  To have planting in school yards.

- To put solar panels on the roofs of schools both for energy saving and educational reasons. This has been done in many schools all over Greece, why not in Athens too. We suggest the school complex of Gravas to be the first green school of Athens.

- Green “occupancy” of all the unconstructed land in the central areas, all the fields with debris or vacant buildings without architectural value and large walkways,

- To motivate people to make their roofs green offering plants and seeds from the municipal plant nursery.

Have you adopted in your everyday life any methods of protecting the environment?

Of course! I recycle, I use only my bike and try to persuade more and more people to do the same. I turn off all my electrical appliances when leaving the house and finally, with the help of my friends, I start to turn green my balcony. I promote volunteerism and I propose to you to learn about the actions of the society that protects the sea turtle Caretta – Caretta “ARCHELON” (www.archelon.gr). Also, I protect with the help of the young people of the island the stone paths of Folegandros that are constantly in danger from land owners who wish to transform the paths to highways.


Spring recycling time


Spring has arrived and the general “tidying up” of our seasonal items is a good opportunity to recycle rather than throw away. In addition to saving useful storage space, we activate our environmental consciousness. We may have more things in our home that we can recycle than what we even realize.

Batteries

Instead of throwing the used batteries out, we must take them to the nearest recycling battery bin (supermarkets, banks, shops, etc).

Boxes/containers

Favorite method of storage, useless boxes do not very often lead to recycling bins, but to conventional trash bins. However, we should attempt to put our paper items into recycle bin as clean as possible (e.g. do not throw away pizza boxes with food residues), helping that way both in the sorting of paper and the correct result of recycling, because paper recycling is water based while plastic, metal and glass recycling is based on an extreme heat process and it will not make any difference if there is any dirt.

Wine Corks

Recycled wine corks can be made into a multitude of products: flooring tiles, car gaskets, packaging materials, building insulation products, bulletin boards and even sports equipment.

CDs / DVDs / Tapes

Who doesn’t have such items forgotten or sitting around his house? You have several options. Most local or children’s libraries will happily accept these items, if you donate them to them .A lot of Best Buy stores or Second Hand stores also have places or kiosks for these items.

*And to learn what happens elsewhere, (USA):

Paint cans

Half-full, old, useless, empty or else might be another rubbish bin in our warehouse. In many U.S. states there are paint recycling centers where manufacturers can mix together paint from different cans and then sell them cheaper than the paint we normally would buy. Many states (for example, California) have lists of recycling paint retailers, so every one can find one near by. Always keep in mind, when we are buying paint, to look for low-VOC and lead free paints.

Prizes

Everyone might have a box of old trophies forgotten somewhere in the house. Our Total Awards & Promotions (www. awards mall.com) is a recycling program for charity. They also make some of their own rewards using recycled glass and newsprint.

Expired medicines

Citizens with $2.99 can buy a specially designed envelope, available in any fund of pharmacies to place, seal and mail medicines no longer used to an approved incinerator medicines for the safe and environmentally friendly destruction. The files remain sealed and incinerated and the ashes of burned are used to produce building materials for the construction of green buildings and non-landfills.

Bicycle: in fashion-in action

Only a few Greeks used to have bicycles for more than a bike ride for pleasure. However, in recent years more and more realize that bikes can be a tool that will improve our every day lives, a vehicle that responds to problems created by the cars in the city, providing a convenient private transport solution. It is the vehicle of a new attitude. Especially in short distances it ιhas incomparable advantages over the other means of transportation.We can do more by bicycle as well: we can get a trip to discover places. Even if we have already been there by car, we will get the chance to (re) discover everything in a more authentic way. This, of course, requires some – not very big- experience, a safe-not necessarily- expensive equipment and the appropriate mood to go to the countryside. There is a reason to help the bicycles to discover a new golden age

the good example:

Corfu is the first place in Greece to have the bicycle renting system, using 100% Greek technology. It comprises specially manufactured bikes, automatic renting stations; bike-locking parking bases where people can borrow and return bikes, and bike management software for the programme’s remote control. Bikes are made in Greece by Ideal Bikes and, to rent them, a special citizen’s card is required (for local people) or just a credit card if you are visitor or tourist!

future plans:

About 6,500 bicycles is expected to be spread out by the Ministry of Health to parks and little groves of Attica and Thessaloniki. According to the official announcement of the related Ministry within the next days a  competition call for the supply of these bikes will be held. The responsible Deputy Minister Mr.Christos Aedonis has stated that “our goal is to install bikes ready to be used in parks and groves of Attica within the year or the most the begining  of 2012”.It is expected bicycles to be bought and installed in Pedion of Areos (approximately 200 bikes), in Attikon Park (mountain bikes),in the Veikou Park and in Goudi (where most of the city bikes will be).

Panepistemiou Street is going to be only for pedestrians!

What is going to change in the city center? This traffic regulation provides the movement of cars from Sungrou Ave to the north through Vas. Konstantinou Ave., while Pireos str. will end up to Omonoia square. Separate body headed by the TRAM S.A. will undertake the implementation of the big project which is expected  to be carried out by 2014. This project, of 180 million euros budget, provides of setting up a linear square of 40m width from Syntagma square to Omonoia square, which will only  be interrupted by Amerikis and Emm.Benakis streets.

events:

Critical Mass Ride (CMR): “The critical  mass” claims its own space on the road in a lot of Greek cities. (info: criticalmass.gr).

Freeday: Every Friday, the big ride around the city of Athens. Meeting point: Thesseio  at 21:30.(info: podilates.gr).

Peristeropetalies: Every Wednesday, Municipality of Peristeri’s grove (entrance of St Vassileiou str), at 20:30.(info: peristerofolies.eu/site/).

Podilates Alsoupolis: Every Wednesday, Olympic Stadium, at 18:00 (info: podilatesalsoupolis.blogspot.com).

Halbike: Every Wednesday, at suburban’s station of Pentelis Ave. at 20:15. (info:halbike.wordpress.com).

routes:

Plastira Lake: in the shadow of Agrafa Mountains.Close to Karditsa, Thessalia, at the foot of Agrafa mountains there is one of the most popular mountain destinations, the Plastira lake and its famous bike route.

Assopos river: route parallel to the canal. Among the Thiva area and the Northern Mountains of Attika there is a beautiful valley crossed by the river Assopos. Be careful of the canal.

Varempompi: the ideal start.Only a few miles out of Athens, at the foot of Parnitha mountain there is an area, a paradise for mountain bikes.

Mountains of Arkadia (Peloponessos): Climbing the villages of Mainalo mountain.It is close to Athens,only two hours drive, but you can find in Mainalo’s villages all these they can get you out the city ‘s problems.

*additional information, and more routes on: podilatesmag.gr