January 07, 2015

Istanbul is Slowly But Surely Getting on Its Bike


Istanbul’s historic mosques and modern office towers often overlook a sea of traffic, as both population and car ownership rise rapidly in Turkey’s largest metropolis. Given the city’s perennial congestion, cycling could be an appealing alternative and the master plan for Istanbul calls for 1,004 kilometres of new bike paths by 2023.

But cyclists say the biggest deterrents are the limited infrastructure in Istanbul, a sprawling city of 15 million people, and the attitude of the general public, especially car drivers. They say that most of what’s been created in the city thus far runs along seaside routes used mainly for leisure, and requires cyclists to share space with pedestrians. New bike-share facilities are also largely limited to recreational areas, and public-transportation integration remains problematic.

Improving the situation for Istanbul’s cyclists poses a bit of a circular conundrum: in order to become a more bike-friendly city, the number of cyclists needs to grow to the point where their demands – and presence on the streets – cannot be ignored. But few will want to ride in the city until it’s safer for and more hospitable to cyclists.

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