On 15/2/2023 the Greek Federation of Urban Cycling and “Attiki Cycling Community” had a meeting with the Minister of Citizen Protection, Takis Theodorikakos.
The association's long-standing demands that we have been demanding since 2014 were formulated:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE PROBLEM OF BICYCLE THEFT AND ASSESSING THE EXTENT OF IT
The Minister was surprised by our pointing out the extent of the phenomenon of bicycle theft in the cities as he had not been the recipient of such complaints in the past. We mentioned that there are known locations within Attica/Athens where stolen bicycles are traded and that there are regular weekly postings on the internet about thefts. He asked us if we have data and metrics but, as we told him, data on bicycles are generally absent. We believe it is the state's responsibility to record this data. It was suggested, and the minister agreed, that we enquire about the Greek police for data on bicycle thefts.
THE NEED TO ORGANIZE AND SET UP A SPECIAL POLICE TEAM
We have for years pointed out that there is a need to organize a coordinated operation to combat bicycle theft gangs. We were pleased to hear that the Minister knows, as he told us, what is being done in other European countries. We would see it as positive if he would adopt the practice from Milan (1) (and not only from there) of which he told us that he has a good knowledge of the situation. To create a special police service and team to combat bicycle theft that among other things checks online for bicycle sale ads and locations where stolen bicycles are channeled and have a found page where it ensures that bicycles are returned to their rightful owners.
It should be noted that in other European countries, the use of GPS trackers mounted inside bicycles to dismantle gangs has worked successfully (2). They are placed by the police or following complaints from individuals who have made the signal of the devices known to the authorities.
CENTRAL PUBLIC REGISTER OF BICYCLE REGISTRATION
The need for a central and official bicycle registration register under the supervision of the ministry (as opposed to scattered private initiatives) as is done e.g. in UK, Germany (e.g. bikeregister, fahrradpass (3) ) was mentioned. This can help to identify stolen bicycles, prevent people from buying stolen bicycles and facilitate the process of reporting bicycle theft online.
POLICING OF CYCLE PATHS AND SPEED LIMITS
We raised the issue of policing (any built) cycle lanes to prevent them from being converted into car parks and monitoring the speed limit within the urban area, which we call for to be reduced to 30 km/h on the vast majority of roads in the interests of a smooth coexistence for all.
BICYCLE PARKING WITH SUPERVISION BY THE POLICE AUTHORITIES
We highlighted the complete lack of parking spaces suitable for bicycles. We suggested the cooperation of the police and locked parking boxes (along the lines of those installed in other European countries(4) ). We explained that those placed outside Athens Metro stations are woefully inadequate and useless for cyclists.
The Minister for his part found all our demands very reasonable. He even expressed the need for a combined campaign to change the mindset of all citizens and the cooperation of ministries and local authorities. At this stage, however, he informed us that the above is practically unfeasible as we are in an election period and he cannot commit to something. He wished that serious cooperation with timetables, indicators, and a memorandum of cooperation could be established immediately after the elections.
As the Greek Federation of Urban Cycling and the "Attiki Cycling Community" we have long-standing public demands for years regardless of electioneering or post-election period.
We believe that where there's a will (and commitment) there's a way, and we are open to meeting and talking with all stakeholders.
Υπουργική Απόφαση Αριθμ. ΔΟΥ/ΟΙΚ.1920/2016, ΦΕΚ 1053/Β/14-4-2016, Έγκριση Τεχνικών Οδηγιών για ποδηλατοδρόμους (Υποδομές ποδηλάτων). σ.13747-1374