Bicycles are not only hobby instruments for the people of İstanbul for the last decade, especially for young white-collar population who do not need a formal dress code in their offices. Bicycles do not only offer these people the advantages such as keeping their bodies in shape, but also sustainable healthy living and avoiding the traffic of İstanbul in rush hours.
Bicycle Riding in a City of Hills
Bicycles are more often seen in flat cities such as Amsterdam, as we all know. Considering the fact that even one of the most ancient epithets of this old lady is “city of 7 hills”, bicycle riding is not the most common practice for transportation. On the other hand, bicycles began to be seen far more common as healthy living practices began to take more place in ordinary people’s daily life. Nevertheless, bicycles have always been legally recognised by Turkey’s traffic regulations and a bicycle rider has every right to travel in the urban streets. Therefore, the driver behind you should respect you as you slow down riding up the hill, but it is an unfortunate fact that this respect may not always be seen.
This acclivitous state of city also compels the bicycle riders to ride only in dry weather. It is a very risk-increasing act to ride up a slope on wet asphalt and breaks may not hold riding down one.
Mentioning the recognition of bicycles by the state as a transportation vehicle, just keep in mind that highways are an exception to this rule. Actually, the reasons are very simple for this; highways are toll roads that charge the vehicles automatically which a cannot be practised on bicycles. Second reason is that, there are minimum speed limits and it is unlikely to be able to ride your bicycle with 60 km per hour. Even if the biker somehow can, natural wind and wind to be caused by the cars passing by would dramatically put the bicycle rider’s wellbeing to risk.
Bicycles and Public Transport
This increase in number of bicycle riders, state of being an acclivitous city and preference of riders to take their bicycles to far ends of the city pushed İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality to adapt the public transport vehicles and regulations to allow people to use the public transport vehicles, within some limits for some.
For instance, riders can use the underground metro network between all day long except the rush hours, which have been determined as 07.00-09.00 in the morning and 17.00-20.00 in the evenings. On the other hand, riders with portable bicycles do not have this limitation, they are allowed to use the metro underground with no limitations. Bikers are also allowed to use the lifts in the stations.
Most of municipality busses have a special equipment in front of them in order to hold bicycles and can be used by bikers all day long. Busses without this equipment can be used between 10:00 to 16:00 and 22:00 to 06:00 hours, again in order to avoid the crowds in rush hours. Again, portable bicycles are allowed to busses every day and hours.
Ferries can be used with bicycles all day long and with no limitations. Bicycles are allowed in all of these public transport vehicles with free of extra charge. Only private ferries traveling to the Prince Islands from main land treat bicycles as persons have ask for the same charge.
Bicycle Roads of Istanbul
İstanbul has bicycle roads in both continents, Europe and Asia, which makes this hobby and transportation tool far more appealing. Especially Anatolian side connects many districts with bicycle road going all the way through Kadıköy to Kartal on the coast. This destination also connects bicycles to ferries and underground metro in Kadıköy and again ferries in Bostancı. Both of these locations also enable the riders traveling to European Side of İstanbul, to Eminönü, Karaköy, Kabataş and Beşiktaş Ferry Piers. A short ride from Eminönü Pier to Haliç Metro station will make the rider be able to use the underground metro network of European Side of İstanbul as well.
Bicycles have a very important place in the daily life in Prince Islands, the four major islands located in Marmara Sea with urban settlement and are also a district of İstanbul on their own which are governed by İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Any cars or motorcycles are strictly banned in the inland transportation, except for the service vehicles of municipality such as garbage trucks, fire department’s and polices’ vehicles. The habitants prefer to use normal bicycles for their pleasure and electrical bicycles and other electrical vehicles for their daily needs and transportation. Phaetons were used to be a traditional method for transportation as well, as well as a very popular practice for touristic sightseeing tours but this practice has ended in 2020 due to the demand of animal lovers in İstanbul. Today, electrical buggies are used in Prince Islands for public transportation and taxies and are very much appreciated by the public. This exceptional state of Prince Islands have turned them in to bicycle roads by nature and riding a very popular act. You can enjoy the Prince Islands with your own bicycle or bicycle renting shops which are very common in all four Islands.
Also, tens of kilometres of bicycle roads are taking place in the urban planning of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The facts that bicycles have a major effect on easing the traffic jams and decreasing the carbon food print of the peoples of the city, bicycles are encouraged by the Municipality. That is why, an establishment and an app has been developed under the Municipality’s body; ISBIKE. Any person can download the app to their smart phone, create their account, load units with their credit card and lease a bicycle which have been spread to the stations located on the bicycle roads and leave it at the station they wish. App shows the stations on the map, nearest station to you and how many bicycles are currently located in that station, which works with 100% accuracy. Today, number of Isbike stations are 140 and there are approximately 1.500 registered bicycles registered to the system. The only disadvantage of the system is that you cannot always find a proper and comfortable bicycle. Vehicles are very heavy and are designed for basic transportation, which make them used by many different riders with a variety of skill set. Nevertheless, the app also contains a complaint mechanism for those who rent a bicycle from Isbike and have a poor experience. The malfunctioning bicycle is to be taken by the officials and credits to be returned to the rider.
Looking at the foreseeable future, bicycles are most likely have a far more place in the daily life of İstanbul, so step onto your pedal and join the bikers of İstanbul.