Athenian drivers are a lot safer and more disciplined than those of Cairo, Istanbul and probably Bucharest…
They do stop at red traffic lights most times, but that’s about it. Like their Balkan counterparts, they strongly believe that heavy traffic can magically disappear at the touch of their horn. They have no respect whatsoever for pedestrians and cycling is a sure way to eventually land yourself as a client of the National Health Service (and that’s the last thing you want to do, take our word for it).
Athenian roads are not in the best of conditions and this is exacerbated by the complete lack of coordination between the different governmental departments and public utility companies that regularly carry out roadworks and drill into city streets. It is not rare to witness the electricity or water company men drilling into a street that has just had a new-asphalt layer applied only a week before!
Cars are allowed into the city-centre (areas marked with a “D” sign) every second day, depending on their registration plates (odd number plates on odd calendar days and even number plates accordingly). This measure was introduced back in 1982, in order to tackle the increasing traffic and pollution problems of the time and has become completely outdated nowadays. The traffic in the centre cannot get any worse and although public transport keeps improving with the introduction of new metro stations and tram lines, Athenians are so enamoured of their cars that only a total ban would improve traffic conditions (and would then, with mathematical precision, lead to a full-scale revolt).
Parking in the city centre is regulated Mon-Fri 09.00-21.00, Sat 09.00-16.00 and is allowed only on white lines. The ridiculously complicated pricing system is as follows: 50c for the first half hour increasing by 50c for every subsequent half hour and up to two hours (€2). For two and a half hours you have to pay €4 and for three hours, which is the maximum time allowed, €6. Blue lines are reserved for residents and yellow ones for public services and retail professionals.
If you prefer to opt for something simpler, this comes at a price: Parking lots, over and under ground, are scattered around the centre and start at €5 per hour up to a minimum of €15 for a whole day.

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