Walk this way

The GREEN line shows a 30 meter crossing distance. The RED line 35 meter route is an unfortunate but frequent pedestrian choice.

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.

The “playing field” at 08:30 the other day. Very little foot or vehicular traffic at this hour.


3 thoughts on “Walk this way

  1. I should point out there there is some pedestrian culpability at play. Visitors should understand that crossing a road at its narrowest point is a better option than choosing the longer route. However the longer route (and larger area) does provide room for vehicles to swerve around pedestrians which may increase chances of survival.

  2. Fun piece, Tom, and absolutely accurate. Add to the mix, please, the wall to wall traffic parked along the out of town approach to this area, which significantly narrows (literally)the options!

  3. Hi T.O.H. – I hope your summer is going well!
    For me it is painful to be driving anything through the militarized zone I described and that we all know. I’ve written before about the “engineering” that went into the creation of the boulevard you described. I simply will not participate and contribute to the problem anytime after 7pm. If for some reason I must be at the port in the evening during “the season” I have the luxury to park way outside of town and walk through backstreets to get there. Insane, sane, saner, sanest.

    I once asked a public employee who ought to know about a traffic island at the Agios Riganaki junction. He didn’t say it was a good or bad idea, he simply told me that there wasn’t enough room. This leads me to believe that there is some “traffic design standards awareness” at town hall (for all the good it does).

    This is an island for which tourism is a financial necessity.

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