The pedestrianization of historic Istanbul

Public space and public life

250 streets in Istanbul's historic peninsula are now car-free and pedestrian-friendly. The transformation has improved air quality, reduced traffic congestion, and improved pedestrian safety in the city. Photo by Ozgur Guvenc/Shutterstock.

Between 2011 and 2013, EMBARQ Turkey, in cooperation with Gehl Architects, helped to pedestrianize over 250 streets in Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. EMBARQ Turkey partnered with local government and relied on the input of local business, communities, and stakeholders to revitalize public spaces that had been severely challenged by traffic congestion. Roughly 2.5 million people now walk the peninsula's streets daily and pedestrianization projects like the one undertaken in Istanbul have been shown to reduce traffic fatalities by 60%. Future work will replicate this approach in three historic Turkish cities by 2019.

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