Cycling Awareness Growing in Greece

By Morgan Pettersson

The 4th annual National Bike Ride held on  Sunday the eighth of May attracted thousands of cyclists in Thessaloniki who wanted to spread the message that bike riding is a fun, safe and economical way of travelling.

Groups of cyclists across thirty four locations in Greece participated in the event, where cyclists took over the streets to show their visible presence on the roads and to demand more respect from drivers.

Thessaloniki is still a long way behind other major European cities when it comes to bike awareness, only two years ago was the first cycling lane installed.

The main group behind the event, Bike Respect, is a group run by  Kostas Simelidis who aim to show that cycling can be a sustainable transport option in a country so reliant on vehicles.

The group formed in 2008 and have been instrumental in bringing bike awareness to not only Thessaloniki, but Greece as well.

“Very few people were aware of the benefits that cycling as transportation in both health, atmospheric and sociological terms. What they thought of cycling was that it is a rather dangerous way to move around so we felt that someone had to come out and tell the people that it can be a very good response to the traffic issue and this is how the group “Bike Respect” started off” says Kostas Simelidis.

Julie Eskeson, a Danish exchange student studying in Thessaloniki joined the crowds and hit the streets to participate in the bike ride.

Coming from a country almost completely reliant on cycling as a mode of transport she said it was great to see the people of Thessaloniki enjoying cycling as much as she does.

“I really enjoyed the ride! I haven’t realised how much i missed biking until today. It really made me happy to come out in the world and see that other people are making an effort to promote biking in big cities, it made me feel proud about being from a place where we care so much about our bikes” she says.

Whilst this may only be the first step in a long battle for cycling equality in Thessaloniki, you can be sure that this group of dedicated cycling enthusiasts will not be giving up the fight anytime soon.


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