Holiday brings much-needed relief to Istanbul traffic

Published 11.08.2019 00:00

No motorists stranded under the scorching sun for hours, no commuters pushing their way into the crammed buses. On public holidays, Istanbul is heaven for those yearning for a deserted city instead of the vibrant metropolis it normally is throughout the year. Surely, there is a considerable number of people who choose or have to stay in Turkey's most populated city in Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) but traffic is not much of a headache as it is on any other day, a new survey shows.

Employing big data analytics and technology, academics from three universities studied Istanbul traffic's rhythm in public holidays. The results show a 40-minute journey from one central location to another decrease to as low as 15 minutes in holidays like Qurban Bayram.

Researchers studied Istanbul's 4,000-kilometer road network, measuring driving speeds, the density of traffic, delays and factors causing delays in the movement of vehicles. The report shows the time spent by a commuter for a round trip on any main, busy road of the city is an average 1 hour, 6 minutes due to traffic. They spend an additional 42 minutes on average.

The study shows motorists lose an average 33 minutes for every travel each day because of heavy traffic and it increases to 44 minutes in the evening rush hour. This means an additional fuel cost of TL 15 per vehicle and again, this is higher for those stuck in the evening rush hour.

All these changes when it comes to holidays, especially when they are longer. Be it Ramadan Bayram (Eid al-Fitr) or Qurban Bayram, driving speed can be expanded about 183% on main roads of Istanbul due to largely emptied roads. Dr. Serkan Gürsoy of Bahçeşehir University, who led the study, says the traffic or "mobility on the road" as he calls it, limits accessibility for people.

"With 51% of trips in Istanbul on the land, this is about the locations accessible for 16 million," he says, implying that longer travel times deter people from traveling. "For instance, the number of cultural venues are higher in some districts. There is about one cultural venue (theater, cinema, cultural center etc.) available for every 10,000 people. The number is 15 in Beyoğlu and eight in Beşiktaş districts. Other districts have less access to cultural venues. For example, without heavy traffic, residents of Ümraniye district would easily travel to 91 of 100 museums located in and near the district, instead of 32 they can travel in a short time," he says. "So, holidays can be an opportunity for people of Ümraniye as they can travel in 20 minutes to any museum during bayram [because of low traffic]," he says.

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