BikeLab spreads to six cities across Turkey
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has an ambitious target: to have 1,000 km (620 miles) of bikeways by 2023. The municipality has at least one strong ally in this goal: EMBARQ Turkey has been helping to improve cycling infrastructure across the country, and has already been a key supporter of Istanbul’s efforts.
Turkey has many good reasons to move away from cars. The country has the highest gasoline and diesel prices in the world and Istanbul is ranked as the second most congested city in the Europe. Encouraging cycling across the country is an ideal remedy to many of these issues. Unfortunately, even though bikes are defined as a mode of non-motorized transport by law, drivers of motorized vehicles do not respect cyclists. This, combined with a lack of well-designed, safe bikeways makes cycling dangerous and difficult.
Since 2011, EMBARQ Turkey has helped to promote physical activity and reduce travel times and emissions from transport. By providing technical assistance, carrying out safety assessments, and reporting their findings for improvements, EMBARQ Turkey has worked to integrate bicycling with the existing transport structure.
In the past two years, EMBARQ Turkey has become a known expert in supporting cycling projects across the country. In 2012, EMBARQ Turkey developed BikeLab İstanbul in cooperation with YARD 9 and with the support of the Netherlands' Royal Consulate General. EMBARQ’s BikeLab Istanbul workshop report detailed how best to encourage a cycling culture in Istanbul, suggesting running public service announcements on TV, raising bicycle awareness on special bike days, and bike sharing programs implemented by municipalities. This report sparked conversations about how best to improve cycling across Turkey, and many municipalities are increasingly interested in collaborating with EMBARQ Turkey to promote cycling culture in their cities.
EMBARQ Turkey is expanding cycling programs across the country
Since 2012, EMBARQ Turkey has helped to spread BikeLab to five additional cities: Antalya, Sakarya, Eskişehir, Konya, and Kayseri. People are cycling all over Turkey, and more importantly local governments are increasingly interested in building a cycling culture in their cities.
In Konya, which has 196 km (122 miles) of bicycle lanes, efforts are underway to increase the effectiveness of the existing network. Since surveys have shown that potential users are concerned about their safety, EMBARQ Turkey has lent its expertise to improve the safety of the system. As a first step, EMBARQ is planning to carry out a safety assessment of Konya’s existing network, and will make recommendations later this year. Konya has further plans to expand the existing network to 250 km (155 miles) in 2014.
Kayseri, a city with a population of 1.3 million, currently has just 75 km (46 miles) of bikeways in the city. The Clean Energy Foundation with the support from the United Nations Development Programme is working on a project to improve the city’s cycling infrastructure, and to encourage women to use bicycles. EMBARQ Turkey is the technical partner for the project, and recently published a report that summarizes workshop findings and identifies priority actions for Kayseri. EMBARQ Turkey aims to complete a safety assessment of Kayseri’s existing network by December 2013.
Bringing cycling culture to university campuses
In addition to citywide BikeLab projects, EMBARQ Turkey has been working with universities. In order to promote non-motorized transportation on campuses, EMBARQ Turkey started “CampusLab” in cooperation with İstanbul Technical University (ITU). By developing a transportation master plan for ITU’s main campus, CampusLab will provide mobility to 19,200 students, faculty, and administrative personnel. When finished, the network will consist of 5 km (3.1 miles) of bikeways within the campus and improved pedestrian facilities and a bike-sharing program, which will be publicly associated with EMBARQ. One of the docking stations will have the EMBARQ Turkey brand to help promote EMBARQ in Istanbul. After the initial transportation master plan is completed in September, ITU will start looking for sponsors to fund its implementation.
Other university campuses are likely follow ITU. There are plans for Selçuk University in Konya to build bikeways in the campus, integrating them with the citywide network. Similar plans are underway for Abdullah Gül University and Erciyes University in Kayseri. EMBARQ Turkey will provide technical assistance in shaping up the safety focused bike network along with capacity building seminars.
A safer, more accessible cycling infrastructure will provide Turkey’s cities and universities with an environmentally friendly, equitable form of transport. When it comes to cycling in Istanbul and beyond, EMBARQ Turkey is leading the charge on several fronts.