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The year ahead: how does Greece’s National Coordinator begin campaign planning?

10 February 2022

It’s the start of a new year and that means that European towns and cities have another opportunity to raise awareness about sustainable mobility. National and local coordinators from across Europe, and beyond, are busy wrapping up last year’s activities and have begun planning for the months ahead. We sat down (virtually) with Kalliopi Papadaki, the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK National Coordinator for Greece, to discuss the next steps.

As the national coordinator for the campaign in Greece, what steps are you taking now to plan for the year ahead?

At this stage, I am supporting local coordinators as they begin their planning for the year. This includes sending informational material to every municipality in Greece and organising informative teleconferences to discuss challenges and strategies through local networks.

In addition, I am continuing to collect photos and descriptions of activities that were showcased during last year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK to highlight exciting activities for our annual Mobility Week issue, which is distributed to cities across Greece in the hopes of inspiring further action. Each year an award ceremony recognising the previous years’ outstanding participants is also organised.

At the same time, we are promoting the campaign within the context of urban revitalisation studies that include participatory planning and public awareness as part of their core programme as well as joint promotion of the campaign with the Ministry of Education to activate schools' and students' participation, an especially important group for the European Year of Youth 2022.

Finally, I am currently helping connect a project that aims to install public bicycles throughout cities in Greece with the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign to expand impact.

For local NGOs, organisations, citizens and stakeholders who are trying to learn more about sustainable mobility in their area or who want to discover options for sustainable travel, what tips would you recommend?

I would recommend that local organisations interested in sustainable mobility cooperate with their local government to better serve people. This includes close collaboration with disability organisations and associations of seniors, parents and guardians.

The National Coordination in Greece has also sent information to many organisations and associations across the country and highly recommends that local coordinators do the same in their area as open channels of communication are essential to gathering new ideas and opinions.

An example where we would highlight the potential for sustainable travel and cooperation - that takes advantage of Greece’s beautiful natural landscape - is to promote hiking and the creation of trails outside of cities that are also connected to the cities themselves. Hiking clubs could be involved in the promotion and maintenance of these trails.

The European Commission has declared 2022 the European Year of Youth. What role do you see young people having in the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign?

Young people can play a very important role in the campaign. In my experience, they are the group that most commonly uses bicycles and small mobility vehicles for transport. Young people are also more comfortable and familiar with new technology that helps with transportation issues. This is one of the many reasons why we have included youth policies in our work to promote their involvement. One idea that we are currently promoting is the organisation of ‘hackathons’ to gather new ideas from youth on how to travel sustainably.

Can you provide recent examples of sustainable mobility strategies or activities in Greece that involve young people (e.g. school children, teenagers, young adults or young professionals)? If not, what tips would you give local organisers to better involve young people?

Some recent examples of sustainable mobility activities in Greece that involve youth include a variety of both permanent measures and awareness-raising actions. For example, we have implemented permanent measures to create school routes and ‘children’s roads’; neighbourhoods with low speed limits; neighbourhoods with sloping sidewalks for children to play on; the creation of bicycle stations in schools, and smart pedestrian crossings, among others.

Examples of awareness-raising actions include the adoption of a pocket park or hiking trail by groups of young people; public transport cards for young people between the ages of 12 – 25; training programmes for hiking guides, and volunteering programmes for young people to support the elderly in their daily transportation needs.

Based on your experience organising the campaign in Greece, what age groups would you say are the most active? Do you notice any differences in mobility patterns between ages groups?

In my opinion, the most active group is between the ages of 18 – 30 years old. Some older people may find it more difficult to change their habits according to new developments. In addition, primary school children are very receptive to our campaigns and I believe this is a really important group to communicate with so that they learn healthy, sustainable mobility habits early on.

Interested in learning more about what’s happening in your area? Find your country’s national website here or check out last year’s activities here.