By Yorgos Karahalis

Anyone who rode a bicycle through the jammed Athens center a few years ago was either admired or called “the madman of the village,” as an old Greek saying goes.

It’s not like that anymore. “You’re no longer the madman of the village, you are a person inspiring others on how they could live in the chaotic Athenian center using a bike,” said Tolis Tsimoyannis, a 42-year-old bicycle importer and himself a biker.

The boom in Greece’s bicycle market started about four years ago and has maintained its upward trend, with small periods of steady sales due to political and financial unrest in the country.

The crisis itself, the rising cost of fuel and high taxes have motivated Greeks to ride bikes but it has also made people think that as well as saving money, they can also reach their destination faster and get some exercise along the way.

In a city where the majority of the population depends primarily on their own car for traveling even the shortest distances, and who rarely use any other mean of transportation, the bicycle has became a new trend for thousands of Athenians.