It is the time again this year for the Skopelos human bowling tournament. Not to be confused with legitimate sporting events, this 3 month informal spectacle takes place from about 09:00 to after midnight 7 days a week and pits motorized vehicles against pedestrians
The challenge is for pedestrians to cross the 30+ meter unmarked intersection from where the coastal walkway ends opposite Proton market to the relative safety of the walkway in front of Gkikas Bakery.
A normal pace (1.4 m/s) should deliver a walker from one side to the other in about 25 seconds. Those guests of the island walking with small children or eating something or talking on the phone need extra time.
Contributing to the perilous situation, the “playing field” is located at the intersection of three busy traffic routes which have no obvious restrictions on speed or even which side of the road to drive. The area is also the confluence of the entrance and exits to the public parking, and the entrance and exit to ferryboat/shipping boarding/disembarking areas. In other words, vehicles are supposed to be there. And pedestrians as well.
A further interesting mix is local drivers vs “new to the area” tourist drivers. The locals know where they are going and perhaps have a sense of intersectional “nuances” whereas visitors generally do not. Local drivers (cars, motorbike, trucks etc) may take some risks when they perceive that visitors in front of them are driving at an “unacceptably” slow speed as they wonder where the hell they are going.
Though it is obvious that the municipality of Skopelos is dependent on tourism for its livelihood, there is no sensible infrastructure in place to handle the crowds that the tourism industry desires and indeed promotes. This dangerous intersection is indicative of the island’s and the region’s lack imagination and “head in the sand” approach to tourism planning.
So, please remember to look at least 6 ways before crossing the street. Or use the non-existent zones set aside for pedestrian safety.