• Cretans want better roads

    by  • 14 August, 2008 • General • 8 Comments

    The English language version of Kathimerini had this to say this morning:

    Residents and professional organizations on Crete yesterday blamed the slow progress of road construction in the north of the island for dozens of road fatalities in recent years, following the death at the weekend of three people in a head-on collision.

    Locals complain that it has taken 20 years and three tranches of European Union funding to build 50 kilometers of a 312-kilometer road network in the island’s north. “The island’s road network is of a Third World standard,” the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece’s western Crete office, Antonis Pitaridakis, told Kathimerini. “Our so-called national road network is narrow, dangerous, poorly lit and badly maintained,” he added.

    “Crete is in urgent need of new roads, otherwise lives will continue to be lost,” said Yiannis Lionakis, director of the ELPA road assistance group in Iraklion. He said the number of cars on Cretan roads has increased nearly sixfold to 600,000 over the past 40 years but the roads have not been upgraded to handle the extra traffic.

    I would be the first to admit that road improvements are important what with the growing number of cars on our roads every year. But at the same time I can’t help asking myself the drivers on the Cretan roads:

    • Might wearing the seat belt for once maybe reduce the number of fatalities caused by road accidents? When I drive from Iraklio to Chania at the west end of the northern stretch of said “National Road”, I can count the number of you wearing a seat belt on one hand (barring the tourists).
    • Would it maybe help if you used your direction indicators as they are intended to be used? Nobody (except the tourists once again) seems to be aware of the existence of that little handle at the steering wheel, let alone what to use it for. How did you get your driver’s license? What did you learn at those driving schools?
    • Maybe looking in the rear mirrors once in a while might give you a better idea of the co-occupants of the same road? Yes, there are other people using this road. Really, it’s not laid out there just for you. Rear mirrors? I know, you thought those were meant to check how good you look. They are not.
    • Do you really have to park on the shoulder to pick some flowers or check your olive trees? I know it is hard to believe that this space has not been constructed to accommodate your personal needs or whims, but really, look it up, it was meant for something else. Believe me, the European Union does not fund your personal parking spots along the highway.
    • The white lines on the asphalt? Yes, you are supposed to drive between them, not over them. Trust me, contrary to your own beliefs, your car is not that big, it easily fits between those lines.
    • And finally, maybe, just maybe, could you stop continuously blabbering on the damn mobile phone for hours on end while driving? It might help you concentrate on the traffic and avoid those accidents.

    To paraphrase the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece’s western Crete office, Antonis Pitaridakis: “The island’s driver’s attitude is of a Third World standard”. Then of course, it’s easier to look for the blame outside. And complaining has always be free. Go ahead complain some more, maybe a strike would be appropriate? A blockade of the roads perhaps, preferably in high season? Whatever you do, avoid at all costs — even if that cost is your own life — to take responsibility for your own actions.

    There, I said it.

    8 Responses to Cretans want better roads

    1. 14 August, 2008 at 12:51

      all you say is true
      here in hania, the actual renovation, restoration and revamping of the road system has also cost lives (workers onthe roadworks have been killed all due to the neglect of the company who won the tender to revamp the roads) – not only that, but it is taking so long, with complete disregard for the discomfort of the users of the road (whether they are law-abiding citizens or not)
      it is my firm belief that the people involved in fixing the roads have made some kind of pact with officials so that they can take as long as they like, ask for more money, pocket some funds for themselves, and basically rule the roost as the officials do
      on top of all that, greeks simply accept the status quo

    2. 14 August, 2008 at 14:22

      What a powerful post! I think drivers worldwide could do with a read of this! Faster and better does not guarantee getting there in one piece either!

      Good one!

    3. luc
      14 August, 2008 at 20:12

      @maria: the abominable conditions under which road workers have to do their job was the only point I was considering for inclusion as something the government is responsible for. I decided to leave it out to drive home the personal responsibility message. And yes, I’ve for some time now harbored the same suspicions that you have…
      @gemma: thank you for your nice words.

    4. Greek driver
      19 August, 2008 at 11:23

      Dear Luc, why not park my car at the side if i need to take a quick piss? Why not solve my domestic or sentimental problems talking on my mobile phone during my driving time? And finaly, WHO are you that you DARE to use the national road at a time when I am using it? Don’t you know that flash lights consume power and I am VERY sensitive in enviromental issues? As far as concerns seat belts, my beer belly is not happy with them! Finaly, each time i guide my sheep out to feed them, no one tells me where or how to drive them!

    5. luc
      19 August, 2008 at 19:02

      @greek driver: I know who you are, I’ve seen you wearing a seat belt too! Thanks for the tongue-in-cheek comment.

    6. 21 August, 2008 at 20:35

      I’ll add:
      – Use the emergency lights when you’re just going to stop in the middle of nowhere.
      – Do not push others to break the laws and rules just because you do.
      – Respect the people driving bikes and motorbikes. If they fall on you huge pick-up they will pay some scratches. If you fall on their humble bikes, they will pay it with their lives.
      – Traffic are not for decoration after Christmas stops.

    7. dr. mike
      30 August, 2008 at 2:37

      Typical greek answer to te above: It’s our mangia to commit suicide bringing down along all you antigreek swines! You just can’t stomach our – way-past – splendor!
      In reality now, maybe you guys, and girls, should be academically teaching on the subject of “Modern greek stupendous stupidity”. Congratulations, keep it going!

    8. 3 October, 2008 at 13:18

      Well said :-)

      As a Cretan, I can confirm all you say about the drivers’ attitude.

      I’ve got another question you could add in your list:

      – Do you realize that those red octagon signs that say “STOP” are NOT advertisements for the namesake brand of condoms? They are really traffic sings and you people are meant to respect them and actually stop to check!

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