Six actions to improve cycling in Istanbul
Istanbul is seeing high levels of traffic jams and suffering from the externalities of unsustainable forms of transport. What has cycling to offer to contribute to the solution? BikeLab Istanbul, a new project from EMBARQ Türkiye, recently published a report that identifies a number of actions to make Istanbul more bike-friendly and maximize the benefits from it. Below are six key recommendations from the report. They fall under three broad categories: building a cycling culture, reinforcing bike safety, and integrating biking with existing transport options.
In order to build a cycling culture, how do we get people thinking about bikes?
1. Roadside development of bike culture -- public billboards, posters, TV spots
The best way to get people thinking about bikes is to engage them in their own environments: their commute to work, in the train, or even at gas stations and other transport stations. Participants surveyed at the BikeLab Istanbul Workshop, which was held by Embarq Türkiye in December 2012, said that roadside promotion of cycling was the most important action in developing a more robust bike culture in Istanbul. In this way, individuals can identify a solution as they are stuck in traffic, spending their hard-earned lira on gasoline, or searching for ways to live a healthier lifestyle. In addition, bike culture can also be introduced insides the households if we take advantage of television and social media outlets. Cycling could increase its visibility dramatically if more television shows and pop culture media normalized it as a mode of transport.
2. Provide training opportunities — open doors
Simply evoking biking is not enough, especially if you are not familiar with cycling as a mode of commuter transport and not a leisure activity for weekends. From elementary schools outreach to adult training courses, providing training opportunities for all ages will be an important component in the development of a cycling culture. In addition to the basics of cycling, BikeLab Istanbul workshop participants recommended the establishment of bike repair and maintenance workshops, as well as national and international workshops in order to give riders the tools, know-how, and peer support they need to reach their destination safely and confidently. University programs in engineering and urban planning could also play a role, offering courses about cycling culture and infrastructure.
Once people are on their bikes, how to ensure their safety?
3. Bike users of all levels should have access to comfortable and safe bike paths
Experienced, inexperienced, and disabled riders alike should have access to safe bike paths. Route planners should recognize that the multiple functions of a potential bike path include business, recreational, and athletic uses. Safety at intersections, traffic lights, lighting and other visibility equipment should also be discussed. Initial steps can be taken at the individual level, such as encouraging helmet-use and addressing bike safety into the motor vehicle training program. Participants in the workshop also proposed the creation of a solidarity fund to support those who have been injured in road accidents.
4. Direct interaction with other modes of transport should be minimized as much as possible
Ensuring the safety of bike corridors begins with engineering principles incorporated at the design phase. The most fundamental safety design is the minimization of interaction between cyclists on the road and other modes of transport. For example, a combined pedestrian sidewalk and bike path is a dangerous and ill-advised practice. This scenario raises accident risk by a factor of five, in comparison with a dedicated bike route. Where motor vehicle-bicycle interaction is unavoidable, speed limits must be reduced; physical barriers utilized where traffic moves at high speeds, and great road signalization must be put in place. Bike paths that are correct from an engineering standpoint may still not be appropriate. Patterns of usage should also be taken into consideration, so that the bike paths do not simply follow existing roads by adding a lane for bikes.
Can we fully integrate cycling into the public transport system?
5. Incentives and discounts for cyclists on public transport should be created
The participants in the BikeLab Istanbul Workshop envision a city in which commuters can get to their destinations seamlessly by welcoming bicycle integration with other forms of transport, such as buses, trains, and water taxis. Discounts and incentives for cyclists on both public transport and at parking stations should be created to encourage integration among the city’s modes of mass transport. In that sense, biking becomes a natural extension of the transport network.
6. Dedicated spaces for cyclists
Integrated transport can be facilitated by creating dedicated spaces for cyclists on public transport. Setting aside space for bikes on commuter trains, subways, and ferries, in addition to their respective terminals and stations, will not only make these modes of transport attractive and available to cyclists, but it will help build the bike culture among the general public by making the bike “visible”. BikeLab Istanbul workshop participants also acknowledged that this area of integration with existing transport modes is where they want to do more research.
Creating a forum for discussion and innovation
BikeLab Istanbul looks forward to bringing together local governments and cyclists and generate a common understanding of the problems and the solutions to improve health, safety, air quality, and the overall experience of living, working, and enjoying Istanbul . For more information, please visit EMBARQ Türkiye or contact Arzu Tekir.