Workshop in Istanbul Focuses on Building Awareness and Recognition of Cycling in Turkish Cities
Istanbul, Turkey is notorious for its traffic congestion and, according to the Traffic Index Data by TomTom, is the most congested city in the world. If residents continue to depend on private vehicles to meet their mobility needs rather than using public transport, cycling or walking, congestion will not improve. However, there is opportunity for change. A survey conducted on Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula found that only 1 percent of residents, business owners and students use a bike, though 20 percent would bike if there were adequate bike infrastructure, like bike lanes and bike share stations.
With the aim of reducing congestion, WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities has been collaborating with central and local governments to implement new safe cycling infrastructure, improve existing infrastructure, conduct road safety inspections of bike lanes and facilitate capacity building activities for bike sharing systems. In December 2015, WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities organized a workshop on integrating cycling with transport planning. The workshop took place at the Transist Conference, which was hosted by İETT and the İstanbul Public Bus Authority, and brought together 22 participants from the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and local administrations. The workshop also expanded on the Ministry of Environment’s new regulation recognizing cycling as a mode of urban transport.
A Collaborative Approach to Meet Local Needs and Catalyze a Safe Cycling Future
The workshop started with presentations focused on the scope and priorities of planning, cycling in Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, a new regulation introduced by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, cycling in the agenda of development agencies and designing safe bike lanes. After the presentations, the workshop concluded with a discussion session. The participants discussed common challenges that arise in integrating cycling with urban transport plans and explored potential solutions.
Local administrations discussed four aspects of success:
- A participatory process: transport planners should consult the local community when planning bike lane routes and infrastructure.
- Horizontal and vertical collaboration: coordination between central and local administrations as well as coordination between various departments within local administrations.
- Selecting follow up criteria: the ability to follow up on a project and implement it as planned.
- Establishing an assessment process: determining which agency will implement the project and what the regulations surrounding the project are
Mustafa Tekin of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization discussed the Ministry’s 2015 regulation on the design and implementation of bike lanes, bike station and bike parks in urban areas. He announced that the Ministry is preparing a new cycling implementation guide. He also talked about how the Ministry will be collaborating with NGOs, universities and other partners to improve cycling in the city.
Following the workshop, WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities created a report documenting the fruitful discussion. The report, which was published in February 2016, reveals two issues that emerged from the discussion:
- It’s critical that awareness grows among citizens and decision makers about the potential of cycling as a transport mode. Cities should help catalyze more bike infrastructure.
- The current regulations and standards on cycling are not easy to understand and are rarely actually implemented in Turkish cities. Therefore, these laws should be revised in collaboration with all stakeholders.
To access the report and learn more about our safe cycling in Turkey, click here.