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.