Istanbul Historic Peninsula Pedestrianization Project

Current State Assessment

Since 2011, EMBARQ Turkey - in collaboration with Gehl Architects and Istanbul's Fatih Municipality - has pedestrianized 295 streets in Istanbul's Historic Peninsula. This report examines the impact of these changes on the primary users of the Historic Peninsula: Istanbul's residents, students at Istanbul University’s Beyazıt Campus, and employees/business owners in the area. The results reveal that 80% of those surveyed are satisfied with the changes in the area, which brought benefits for accessibility, traffic safety, and environmental quality. 



Safe, attractive, and accessible spaces for community interaction are a vital component of sustainable, livable cities. Too often, city leaders sacrifice public space and walkable neighborhoods in the name of urban growth and expansion. Pedestrianization - the process of closing streets to vehicle traffic, either permanently or during certain hours - not only improves safety and accessibility for pedestrians but also brings larger social, environmental, and economic benefits for cities. Pedestrianization improves public health by providing opportunities for physical activity through active transport, curbs local air pollution, and improves traffic safety. It decreases the number of cars on the road, helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigate global climate change. Finally, pedestrianization supports local businesses and fosters economic growth through tourism and cultural exchange, building thriving and prosperous urban communities. These changes combine to create cities that are livable and sustainable, improving quality of life for urban residents.

The founding purpose of EMBARQ Türkiye – Sustainable Transportation Institute is to catalyze and help implement environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable urban transport and urban development solutions to improve quality of life in cities. In 2010, EMBARQ Türkiye, in cooperation with Gehl Architects and the Fatih Municipality, proposed a pedestrianization project to expand sustainable mobility and create a more accessible Historic Peninsula for Istanbul. The project aimed to reshape the Historic Peninsula as a space for people, not cars, detailing specific strategies for sustainable transport and urban design and planning.

Since 2011, the Fatih Municipality has pedestrianized 295 streets, benefiting the roughly 2.5 million people that walk the streets of the Historic Peninsula each day. This report details the project’s impact on students, residents, and local businesses in the Historic Peninsula, and assesses the how the redefined space has affected their lives. The report aims to assess the impact of the project both in terms of environmental sustainability as well as social impact in order to improve future efforts at pedestrianization and other people-centered design strategies.

I would like to sincerely thank my colleagues who have contributed to this report; the local businesses of the Historic Peninsula, who have helped us to a great extent; Fatih Municipality; and finally, the students and the people of Istanbul.

Arzu Tekir, Director, EMBARQ Turkey

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