Citizens who want to cycle for entertainment, sport or commuting are coming up empty-handed at Istanbul's ISBIKE rent-a-bike stations.
Many cyclists have complained about not being able to find bicycles at ISBIKE, a bike-rental service run by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) company ISPARK, and the current state of the stations. ISBIKE, a project created by the IBB in 2012, came to life with the intention of taking the load off public transportation, developing environmental consciousness and raising healthy children. Lately, bicycles, which save time while commuting and make life easier via their mobile app, have been decreasing at ISBIKE stations.
While some stations remain closed on both European and Asian sides, some have been flat-out abandoned. Likewise, some stations, seen as “active” on ISBIKE’s website, have been deactivated. The stations have instead turned into dumpsites littered with cigarette butts and empty soda bottles.
Citizens who cannot access bicycles, especially on coastal roads, regions where motorbike traffic is dense and during rush hours, noted that e-scooters, a recent sensation in transportation, are only used for commuting whereas bicycles are used for both commuting and sports.
The number of bicycles started decreasing after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the stations were used actively, however, after the pandemic, the bicycles were collected by officials. I last saw a bicycle three to four months ago,” Ismail Yaşar, a shopkeeper residing in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
“Before Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha), these units were covered with plastic. Also, kids trashed the place,” he added.
IBB officials stated that children damaged the bicycles at the aforementioned station and now, it is under maintenance.
Even though Istanbul is trying to break the stereotypes of not being a bike-friendly city, Istanbul’s bumpy landscape does not allow cyclists to commute comfortably. In addition to that, traffic is a huge problem in the metropolis. Although it seems that cycling is the solution, the current habits of Istanbul’s drivers do not bode well for the safety of cyclists.