By Lucie Robson
As the planners of the Paphos town upgrade always told us, the renewal of Makarios Avenue has been worth the wait. This shopping street now has a clean and classic look. It’s easy to forget all the grief the year-long road works caused now that the job has turned out well. Many business owners in the stretch concur. Being a pedestrian zone, you feel you can amble along browsing and shopping in a relaxed manner.
Or that is what we thought once the road was reopened to the public a few months back, until something whizzing past me nearly took the better part of my epidermis with it.
It turned out it was a moped.
I can understand the temptation. It’s one of the pros of riding a moped. Years ago, I got around on one of these bikes and while I was exposed to the winter elements and was perilously disregarded by other motorists, the upside was I could weave in and out of gridlocked traffic, had more parking flexibility and could, I admit it, venture down pedestrianised areas on the basis of my bike not really being taken seriously as a vehicle.
While I did do this when I rode a moped, I did it meekly and considerately while pushing myself along the road with my feet. I got out of the way as soon as I could, too.
According to the official stats on what the chief tourist markets are for Paphos, I think it’s safe to say that most visitors to the district will not be accustomed to negotiating mopeds in town centres back home. Why should they have to do it in a local pedestrianised area while on holiday?
It’s not much fun for residents either, even though they may be a little more familiar with the local ways of the road. The last time I walked around the new town centre, I had to dodge no fewer than six mopeds whizzing along at a merry speed, going about their business. These included postal workers.
Contrast this with pedestrianised Ledra Street in Nicosia. I spend many weekends in the capital, a stone’s throw from this crowdthronged street and can vouch for the fact that mopeds are a rare sight. Any that do ride there do so in the way I used to; like they’re lucky anyone is putting up with them.
The new Paphos town centre is only (and thankfully after last year’s lack of activity) going to get more and more crowded. Weaving in and out of crowds of pedestrians on a moped is plain dangerous.
The town has waited so long for its central upgrade. This hasn’t just been a matter of the last year of works but years of plans and delays as well. For it to be somewhat commandeered by these bikes seems like a shame to me.
For heaven’s sake, police, clamp down on this immediately. Whatever else Paphos may need, it most certainly doesn’t need another unofficial race track.