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Is the bicycle seen as a means of urban transportation?

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Our "Cycling User Groups Survey" that we conducted on Linkedin in the past weeks, "Daily Cyclists" at 20%, "Athlete Cyclists" 18%, "Recreational Cyclists" 61%, and "Cyclings" at 2%. It resulted in the courier'' selection.

So, what do the definitions such as "fun cyclist, sports cyclist, leisure cyclist, bike courier" in the survey mean?

According to the "Turkish Cycling Route Network Master Plan" report published by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization of the Republic of Turkey, the equivalents of these definitions are as follows;

  • Daily cyclist: Cyclists who choose a shortcut to go to work and school every day, who want to continue cycling without being disturbed, who want to stop as little as possible while using their bike.

  • Sports bike: Cyclists who use the bike for sporting purposes, including mountain biking, road racing, and other types. Often used on stages and long distances, they are very fast so they can create conflict with other road users and even other cyclists.

  • Fun Cyclist: Cyclists who are happy to be on and with other cyclists often stop for food, coffee, or other activities.

  • Cycling Couriers: Cyclists who try to get from point A to point B as soon as possible due to time constraints. They usually require a larger area. They are different types of users who carry large bags on their backs and use three- or four-wheel cargo bikes.

According to the results of our survey, the choice of "Fun Cyclist" with a rate of 61%; It shows that the bicycle is a daily means of transportation, a vehicle that we prefer for entertainment rather than sports or business use.

Let's examine this result together with the travel characteristics of bicycle use and the bicycle infrastructure in our country.

  • We can say that bicycle travel is a type of journey that you can do with less energy than pedestrian transportation.

  • Since they are based on biological energy, they do not pollute the air like motor vehicles that consume fossil fuels, they are environmentally friendly because they use sustainable energy.

  • It is not tied to a specific timetable as in public transportation systems, the journey can be started and paused whenever the person wants, it provides flexibility to the user in scheduling.

  • The same flexibility can be said for route selection. The person making the trip can choose the most beautiful, safest and smoothest route for himself.

  • It is more flexible than the automobile in journeys due to the area it covers.

  • The fact that the area they cover is small allows them to occupy less space when parked.

  • Vehicle investment and operating expenses are lower than other vehicles.

  • Contrary to the general perception, bicycle is a high-capacity mode of transportation. As a mode of transport, it has a higher carrying capacity than minibuses, buses and even trams.

  • Since their speed is not high, they have fewer accidents than motor vehicles, and the material losses, injuries and deaths in the accident are much less.

  • Allows social interaction throughout the journey.

  • It reduces the disparities and imbalances between different income and social groups in the society.

  • It facilitates the mobility of every segment of the society and supports participation in urban mobility.

Despite these benefits, urban bicycles are used for recreation, entertainment and sports rather than daily transportation in our country, which has a total of 1048.4 km of bicycle paths.

In a study conducted for the European Union, cities are divided into three groups according to their suitability for bicycle use and bicycle usage rates, and unique strategies are suggested for each three groups. Cities in the lowest group with a cycling rate of less than 10% and with insufficient cycling conditions are defined as “infancy cities” or start-up cities in cycling. In our country, this rate is around 1%.

So how can the cycling rate be increased?

The use of bicycles to access the rail system or main bus stops, which has become widespread in the pandemic, shows that electric scooters and bicycle sharing programs, which were initially seen as hobby and entertainment, have started to be seen and used as a necessity along with this process.

Increasing the use of bicycles as a complement to public transportation systems in urban journeys reduces the motor vehicle traffic volume of the highway. Thus, it contributes significantly to the air pollution and traffic problems of big cities.

It is used as an additional support to public transport systems in urban journeys; In the planning of urban bicycle infrastructure, it requires the creation of different but complementary bicycle connections that will respond to different types of journeys.

However, it is not enough to just create infrastructure for the development of bicycle use.

Since the rate of bicycle trips in the cities of our country remains at the level of 1-2%, all our settlements should be considered as a "crawling city" in terms of cycling and strategies and approaches valid for this group should be adopted. Our cities that want to stand out as a bicycle city; It is necessary to plan the transportation system without distinguishing drivers as cyclists or automobile owners, make arrangements that will make the bicycle the first priority when deciding to travel, and take encouraging measures to direct the citizens to choose a bicycle for their journey, even if they own a car.

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