Cyprus Mail

Municipality draws its red lines in war with eateries

By Maria Gregoriou

NICOSIA municipality has been forced to paint red lines on the pedestrianised streets of Ledra and Onasagorou to clearly mark the designated area allowed for café or restaurant chairs and tables.

Yesterday however, it was clear that even those were being ignored.

In recent months eateries have mushroomed on both streets but the more popular they have become, the more tables and chairs were being placed outside, causing problems for pedestrians, but more importantly, posing a safety risk in the event a fire engine or ambulance need access.

Earlier this year the municipality ran a drill to see how much space would be needed on either side of the two streets for emergency vehicles to comfortably pass but establishments continued to encroach into the two walkways.

“The Nicosia municipality has taken further measures to ensure the free and unhindered movement of pedestrians and people with disabilities in Ledra and Onasagorou streets,” a statement from the municipality said.

Theoretically, the centres of the two streets must always have a clear corridor of at least three metres in width.

Communications officer at the municipality, Makis Nicolaides explained that licensed establishments were given large metal plant pots to mark the designated area. This area encompasses the space in front of the eatery, and the space to the left and right.

“These pots were put in place but as soon as the municipality’s traffic wardens went by to check that the boundaries were being upheld, the tables and chairs were moved outside the allowed area,” Nicolaides said.

Many businesses are given an on-the-spot fine of around €85 but this is not proving to be a deterrent. Also establishments that have not yet received a licence, were not given the pot markers.

“There are procedures involved in getting a licence such as, having the proper ventilation installed, having a proper kitchen and toilets,” said Nicolaides.

“Just as these must be in place, so must the chairs and tables outside the cafes. There must be room for pedestrians to walk by, for an ambulance to go through if an emergency comes up, and for pushchairs and wheelchairs to pass,” he added.

When it comes to furniture, their placement is not the only rule. Plastic tables and chairs are not allowed to be used as they do not contribute to the aesthetic picture that the municipality is trying to create in the old city.

It is hoped the red lines will help when it comes to containing the eateries within the designated space as it will make it easier for fines to be issued.

The lines clearly mark the designated areas “for both the visitors and the people running the establishments.” The municipality said the painting of the lines would be completed in the coming days.

“We urge everyone to contribute to the smooth functioning of the area and to respect the rules adopted by the municipality to maintain the growth and progress of the region,” the municipality said.

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