Workshop In Istanbul Brings Together Local Officials for Better Bike Share Across Turkey
Bike share has become one of the fastest growing trends in urban transport over the past ten years. From 2004 to 2014, the number of cities with bike share systems increased from 11 to 855. With nine cities already operating bike share systems, Turkey is showing substantial interest in moving toward more sustainable urban mobility. However, the cities that have implemented public bike sharing systems face unique challenges to ensure the sustainability of their programs.
To address these problems and put these cities in dialogue, our EMBARQ sustainable urban mobility team in Turkey organized a workshop in collaboration with İSPARK—the operator of İstanbul’s public bike sharing system—that took place on August 11, 2015 in Istanbul. Bringing together local officials from cities across the country, the workshop kicked off with presentations on global best practices for road safety and bike share, and was followed by an introduction to the local systems in Kocaeli and Konya.
Bike Share Systems Face Similar Challenges Across Turkey
The presentations and discussions at the workshop revealed four critical challenges that are common to bike share programs across Turkey:
- There is often widespread vandalism of the bikes docked in stations.
- Residents want to be able to pay with a combination of credit cards and public transport smart cards. However, these two forms of payments are not integrated, leading to problems for users.
- Segregated bike lanes often end abruptly and fail to connect with other bike lanes, making cycling in the city less safe.
- Neither the bike sharing system nor the bike lanes were designed with other modes of transport in mind and are therefore not sufficiently integrated with public transport.
By identifying these common problems, participants were able to share their ideas for how planners can address these issues before implementing new bike share programs and infrastructure.
Fostering a Local Bike Culture and Scaling Up
Representatives from eight different cities agreed that a successful bike share program requires a thriving bike culture. Participants proposed a program that allows university students to rent bikes for commuting to and around campus as a first step toward building a local bike culture. As a result of the discussion, İSPARK has already begun collaborating with Yıldız Technical University—Turkey’s third oldest university—to establish a bike sharing on campus.
Selman Cebeci, the head of Marine and Heliport Operations at İSPARK, broadened the conversation by emphasizing the need to establish solutions that work for the rest of the country. He suggested a platform that ensures meetings similar to the workshop take place in the future, allowing regions to learn from one another. Building on this, our Turkey team shared the workshop outcome report with the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization that help contribute to defining standards for bike lanes, bike stations and bike parks. The report establishes a framework for future workshops to follow.
Learning from Global Experiences and Adapting Models for Local Use
The boom in public bike share has created an wide variety of examples for Turkey to learn from. While the largest bike share systems are currently in China, Paris, London and Washington, DC are also operating highly successful bike share programs and have collected a large amount of data that is open and accessible. Furthermore, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) outlines key features to consider when implementing new or improving existing bike share systems, giving local planners and decision makers additional tools and information about best practices.
While a range of international case studies exist and offer insights for success, there is no one-size-fits-all model. It is important that each city adapt bike share models to the local context, accounting for topography, weather, infrastructure, density and culture. The workshop in Istanbul helps bridge this gap by giving local decision makers the framework and tools they need, ensuring that bike share programs are well planned, implemented, and operated.
About EMBARQ at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
EMBARQ, Sustainable Urban Mobility by WRI, catalyzes and helps implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban mobility solutions to improve quality of life in cities.