In the meetings that foreign residents of the island had earlier this year with Mayor Yiannis Rangoussis, one of the major areas of concern expressed by participants was the subject of driving and traffic safety on Paros. In addition to answering some of the specific points raised, the Mayor suggested that we talk to Michail Bozikis, Paros’s Chief of Police (“You’ll find him a really good and helpful person”, he told us).
Mr Bozikis was, indeed, kind enough to discuss some of these issues with us. First of all, he confirmed that the number of vehicles on the island has dramatically increased within recent years. There are approximately 13,000 registered vehicles in use on Paros in the wintertime and an estimated 45-50,000 (including rental cars and bikes) during the summer months!
Mr Bozikis also confirmed that our local police perform regular traffic controls around the island, and more frequently during the summer months, including checks on the use of helmets (for motorbikes), safety belts, driver’s and car licences and the enforcement of speed limits. Speed control cameras have already been ordered by the Ministry of Public Order and should be installed on Paros by summer 2007 – good news for those of you who were asking why we don’t have any on the island. He also pointed out that there are regular educational sessions on road safety for schoolchildren of all ages.
In general, however, he appeals to every citizen of Paros to take responsibility for his/her own personal actions with regard to obeying basic traffic rules, as controls and fines from the authorities should not be the only measure taken to ensure safety on the roads; good citizenship should also contribute to overall safety in the community.
Regarding the situation on the Paroikia ringroad, a particular area of concern, one possible way of reducing traffic could be to move public services like DEH (the electric company), IKA (social insurance), OAED (unemployment office) and DOY (tax office) to other areas of town. Additional measures to relieve traffic congestion are already being researched by the local authorities and a viable solution will need to be implemented in the near future.
One measure already taken by the municipality to avoid traffic jams and the illegal parking of cars two or three deep in busy areas of the town centre, is the creation of large free-of-charge parking lots. The main ones are located on the “riverbed” next to the Eparcheio (after Cine Rex), three on the ringroad - opposite the Anargyros Company, next to the Paros Taverna and next to the cemetery, one below the football field, and a few spaces in Livadia opposite the Ambrosia Taverna and opposite Apostolis Ouzerie, plus parking lots in front of the post office.
Another measure is the implementation of the free municipal round-Paroikia bus service (Mon-Fri leaving from the bus station every half hour from 7am-2.30pm throughout the winter). This should be seen as an invitation, Mr Bozikis concludes, to make use of the car parks and take your time to walk (or take the bus) within the limits of town, which will make it an altogether more friendly place for everybody.
Many thanks to Chief Bozikis for the most friendly welcome and for giving us his time to provide the information for this article.