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Our View: Nicosia’s pavement plan falls short for some

the Nicosia mayor said on Wednesday as he announced millions would be spent on “transforming the capital”. 
Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis (centre) said millions would be spent on “transforming the capital”

“There cannot be quality of life in a city without sidewalks that give uninterrupted access and safety to pedestrians, especially people with mobility issues such as people with disabilities, the elderly, children and parents with prams,” the Nicosia mayor said on Wednesday as he announced millions would be spent on “transforming the capital”.

Despite the obvious good intentions, the promise here of “uninterrupted access” would appear to be a bit of a pipe dream given that certain areas in the city and some of its older suburbs can’t ever be transformed into pavement utopias. There is simply not enough space to make them uniform or practical.

But this hasn’t stopped the municipality, which has created completely useless pavements in many areas in recent years. This raises the question of whether the point is to make it look good or just to spend EU money before losing it, no matter how impractical?

It may all look good on paper that we’ve already spent millions creating pavements with a total length of 92km, but it does not reflect how useless some of these are or the fact they have in part been a waste of money.

On top of that, they have charged residents, some thousands of euros, for the length of pavement outside their homes that are of no use whatsoever, not even for one person walking a dog.

To use one such example in the old part of Kaimakli – there are probably many more like this around the older parts of the city – there is a wheelchair ramp on a corner.

The wheelchair can comfortably move five metres before the pavement abruptly narrows to 60cm. The average width of a wheelchair is 66-70cm, so the new stretch of pavement is no use for that. Also, there is no ramp after those five metres that would allow the disabled person to get back onto the road.

Even if the disabled person wanted to only travel those five metres to their home let’s say, the first thing they are faced with on the ramp is two or three parked cars. If they lived further up the same road, it would be pointless to use the ramp because there is no way to get off the pavement later on without injury.

A pavement that people must step on and off of because it’s too narrow for two people to pass each other comfortably is also dangerous. Safety while walking is not just about cars. An elderly person on a 60cm pavement could easily lose their balance and sprain an ankle or worse through one misstep.

According to Nicosia’s mayor the first step in sustainable mobility is to start walking, and in the municipality’s view creating more pavements is the solution. It might be if the policy did not appear to be the creation of pavements just for the sake of it, most of which in any case just seem to facilitate illegal parking.

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