Transportation & Driving
Traffic in Crete
In Crete new roads are built and the old roads are made better in record time and beside many road works there is a sign that tells about the EU support. The main road on the north coast is already partly a motorway with four lanes and the rest is wide lane road. The main roads that run to the south coast start from Heraklio, Rethymno and Chania. On the mountain areas there are still plenty of traditional serpentine roads and most of them are asphalted.
Crete is a member of the EU and the traffic there works mainly by the same rules as in elsewhere Europe and the traffic signs are familiar and easily recognized. The biggest difference with the Cretan traffic in towns is creativity and flexibility and on the main roads high speed and overtaking on the oncoming traffics lane. At first sight the traffic seems to be chaotic especially in towns, but you become quickly accustomed to it. Be aware of motorbikes and scooters weaving in and out of traffic.
It is relaxing to drive on a winding mountain road and take in the scenery
The asphalt in Crete is slippery and when it is wet it is very slippery because in the asphalt there is hardly any coarse stone. Stopping distances are long and a hard acceleration makes the tires lose their grip from the road.
It takes an experienced motorcycle driver to use the front brake. If one is not experienced and wants to rent a bike, the rental company recommends using the front brake only in emergency. In most cases falling is the consequence of using the front brake in a curve.
One-way streets and right of way are relative concepts; there are plenty of oncoming cars.
Right of way seems to be some kind of mutual “agreement” between the drivers. Here the traffic is not flexible because of the politeness, but doing like the others do.
Local people on the island have a positive attitude towards tourists and because of this when driving on small roads and mountains there is no aggressive behaviour, mostly it is the other way round.
People work hard, sometimes even in difficult conditions and they know that the tourist driving the car in front brings more than half of the jobs to the island. On the other hand they don’t want to make their working day any longer by slowing down on familiar curves and that’s why it feels that they drive hard.
Goats and sheep
Goat and sheep herds fill up the road every now and then but they make way for a slow moving car. Sometimes a goat can jump to the road from a few metres high cliff using only a couple of jumps. You must be aware with those goats as well as the sheep herds on the road. Those who take the sheep to the meadows want that the tourist drives slowly and carefully through the herd instead of staying in the middle of it, or stop waiting in the front of the herd. On the other hand it is easier for the shepherd if the sheep could cross the road in one herd.
Common sense makes the traffic in Crete quite safe; it is enough if the driver is in control, attentive and with no per mill. Another noteworthy thing especially after rain is the stones on the road, sand and the holes in the road. When it is dark it is not safe to drive fast in tight curves because a few metres ahead there might be a fist-sized, or bigger, stone on the road or a deep hole in the middle of the driving line. Also goats and sheep can jump to the road especially in the end of the evening when they are by the roadside on their way back to the farm.
In Cretan traffic there is no lack of imagination
Everything is transported with scooters and if necessary three or even four persons fit in. The scooter is a natural vehicle here as a car in some other place.
Small churches by the roadside
Small churches are characteristic to the roadsides in Crete. They are built because someone’s close relative has died there in a traffic accident but also if someone has been saved from a serious situation and has built out of gratitude a small church to that place.
In Crete you can go almost everywhere by bus and the tickets are cheap. Coaches are often used when tourists are transported to the hotels and on trips. Because of the narrow streets buses can’t go in the front of all small hotels.
Some of the smallest roads are gravel roads but along the asphalt roads
it is possible to reach almost every village in Crete. Gravel roads
often take to the mountain peaks and to the areas under cultivation. In
the picture there is a road on the slopes of the mountain Ida.
Remember when you rent a vehicle in Crete take a full