Turkey launches drive to promote cycling

Published 16.05.2019 00:08

Turkey, with cycle lanes spanning 1,048 kilometers across 17 cities, will undertake its first promotional campaign called "Get Turkey Cycling!" with a European Union (EU) fund that aims to encourage bicycle usage in urban areas.

The nonprofit, independent nongovernmental organization affiliated with the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI), the WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities (WRITRSC) - legally registered as the Sustainable Transport and Cities Association in Turkey, applied to obtain EU funding for the campaign.

In the "Get Turkey Cycling!" campaign, which will run from April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, the WRITRSC will collaborate with three municipalities - İzmir, Eskişehir and the Lüleburgaz municipality in the Thrace region of Turkey - to establish an urban cycling communication campaign.

These municipalities were chosen because of the progress made to date in their respective regions on developing cycle lanes. The campaign will involve the provision of theoretical training on promoting bicycle usage as a means of urban transportation to municipality representatives after which practical training will be undertaken.

A field study to observe the best practices in the Netherlands with the Dutch Cycling Embassy will be organized for participants from the selected municipalities, relevant cycling nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in that area, the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Union of Municipalities of Turkey.

Following a needs assessment for each region, a two-day training program will be arranged for each municipality covering their requirements in preparation for an effective communication plan taking into account the best practices observed in the field study. Two-month mentorship post training will support the municipalities in the development and implementation of their campaigns to promote urban cycling, and national and international campaign cases from the project will be shared through a project report.

"Bicycle roads contribute to both decreasing the intensity of traffic and air pollution as well as in the fight against climate change. Thus, bicycle roads are indeed irreplaceable in urban areas," Güneş Cansız, director of WRITRSC, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

Despite long road lengths in Turkey, cycle lanes are not practically integrated with urban transportation, which makes the use of the bicycles difficult for daily transport. Regardless, she maintains that a large number of Turkey's population prefers bicycles as a means of transport, particularly for short distances of up to 5 kilometers.

The advantage of bicycle transport can be seen through the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Calculations show that one car emits 115 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, which could be prevented if a cycle journey is taken as an alternative. Consequently, over a 5-kilometer journey, a total of 575 grams of carbon dioxide could be prevented through bicycle use.

Of the over 1,000 kilometers of cycle lanes in the country, the central province of Konya is by far the cycle kingdom with 515 kilometers. Istanbul follows with just 160 kilometers and Eskişehir with 65 kilometers. Additionally, both Izmir and Sakarya each have 57 kilometers of lanes.

Cycle lanes will be mandatory for new urban construction plans after June 1, Cansız said. "A number of municipalities have started infrastructure studies," but what is missing on cycle lanes is public awareness, she said. "We aim to close this gap thanks to the ‘Get Turkey Cycling!' communication campaign," the final report of which can be used as a road map for other municipalities that want to follow suit to promote urban cycling.

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