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Echoes from Istanbul

22.12.2014
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The Turkish capital of Istanbul has been the goal of many a long distance bicycle tour.  This major hub sits on the edge of the subcontinent and has a huge amount to offer tourists in it’s own right. A number of recent efforts have aimed to reinforce its accessibility to cyclists. Here is a small catch up on what has been going on in the Queen of Cities.

On the 10th and 11th of December 2014, Istanbul hosted the third World Intelligent Cities Summit. Intelligent Urban Regeneration was a major theme of the conference and Feridun Ekmekci, a representation of the National EuroVelo Coordinator for Turkey, was there to make sure that cycling featured in the discussion. He made a presentation in which he outlined the importance of integrating cycling into transport infrastructure plans. He also spoke about the economic impact of cycling, implementing and assessing bicycle policy in the context of the Bicycle Policy Audit, cycling for sustainable tourism and MOVE week.  Finally, he highlighted the hierarchy of cycle routes, of which the most recognisable routes can act as flagship projects to encourage people to get on their bicycles.

Kadıköy, one of the city’s municipalities, recently unveiled a new bicycle path along the coast of the Asian part of the city. The 7.5 km stretch of path from Yogurtcu Park to the Fenerbahce Football stadium was painted a visible blue colour by Filli Boya, a local brand of paint that sponsored the project. There is a total of around 40 km of cycle lanes along the Istanbul coastline.  Jens-Erik Larsen, who represents Foreningen Frie Fugle, one of the EuroVelo 8 project partners, was at the unveiling ceremony and was impressed by what he saw.

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The potential for cycling here is huge and while the hilly terrain may not seem ideal, the popularity of cycling is growing among both tourists and locals alike.  Tour guides, frustrated by the slow traffic in the city centre, have started to offer two-wheeled tours of the city targeted at people who want to see what Istanbul has to offer away from the beaten track.