By Evie Andreou
ABOUT 50 protesters gathered outside Strovolos town hall yesterday and chanted demands that the busy Tseri Avenue undergo a facelift that will preserve its commercial life and neighbourly-like character.
Residents and shop owners of the area, headed by the Tseri Avenue initiative committee, handed a memo to a representative of Mayor Lazaros Savvides, asking that the municipality drops its outdated plans to put up a traffic island and barriers along the avenue.
The committee proposes modifications to the original plans for the avenue’s redevelopment that had been drafted a decade ago and for which the municipality only secured funding this year.
According to the committee, the plan also provides for the construction of three traffic lanes, two large round-abouts and narrow pavements.
“It contains outdated regulations and is contrary to modern standards of sustainable mobility,” the memo said.
The initiative members say the road needs an urgent facelift since it floods every time it rains, and there is inadequate street lighting and pavements.
“We don’t say no to the modifications, they can build more pavements, fix the drainage systems, but it is a shame to destroy the businesses by putting up a traffic island,” said Despoina Petrou, member of the initiative committee.
The committee gave as bright examples the Kyrenia and October 28 Avenues in Aglandjia and Engomi, respectively.
The memo said that the plan does not provide for roadside parking that will allow safe and direct access to the shops along the avenue.
“The study gives priority to serving through traffic at the expense of pedestrians and local commerce, which is against every European principle of sustainable mobility,” it said.
Another concern is that the proposed planning of the avenue does not secure low speed limits and security specifications.
Petrou said that despite the crisis, several new shops have opened the last few years along Tseri Avenue.
“Only three or four commercial streets have remained in Nicosia. With the construction of a traffic island everyone will just drive by to do their shopping at the malls,” Petrou said.
A take away grill restaurant owner said that the traffic island will hurt business.
“It will shut us down; it’s bad enough there is an economic crisis, this move will greatly affect all businesses along the street,” she said.
“The traffic island will be constructed for reasons of road safety,” said deputy municipal secretary Giorgos Christodoulou.
He added that the mayor is to meet with the initiative committee by the end of the month to discuss the matter and that members of the town planning service will also be present.