The World Resources Institute (WRI) Turkey Sustainable Cities aims to have 1 in every 10 inner-city commutes by bicycle in Turkey in the mid-term and a quarter in the longer term to reduce emissions in transportation and as a key component in the fight against climate change, Gunes Cansiz, director of WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Cansiz recommended setting up a working group with central and local administrations, including bicycle users and non-governmental organizations to enable better communication towards expanding the use of bicycle transportation in Turkey.
'Action plans and road maps should be drawn up from this coordination to integrate a secure bicycle network with public transport,' she said.
Ultimately, she said that the WRI aims to have one in every three short-distance trips of below 5 kilometers made by bicycle and to have every person own a bicycle.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic has offered an opportunity to transit to a more integrated and environmentally friendly structure. The pandemic saw a drop in inner-city mobility by up to 90% globally and a 90% fall in demand for public transportation in Turkey.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that global emissions dropped by a record 6% in 2020 when billions of people were restricted from using transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Globally, transportation is still responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses and two- and three-wheelers account for nearly three-quarters of transport CO2 emissions and aviation and shipping are responsible for the remaining share.
Cansiz cited the post-1970s oil crisis as a time when Denmark and Holland availed of the circumstances to create a more sustainable and clean transportation system and advised that Turkey, through greater bicycle usage, do the same.
'WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities celebrates its 15th year and based on our experiences in this journey, we suggest a large focus on bicycle transportation for sustainability,' she said.
Currently, the share of bicycles in the country’s transportation system is only 2% on average but in some cities has reached about 5%. This, however, is much lower than the 45% average in Europe.
One in every four trips is via bicycle in Holland, and in Denmark, it is one in six and one in ten in Germany, Sweden and Finland.
- Bicycle trips reduce carbon footprint by 75%
Europe saves over 3 million liters of fuel annually, corresponding to €4 million. Bicycle usage also prevents more than 16 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, and is a great alternative to other transport modes like gas or diesel cars over short distances in terms of carbon emission reductions, she underlined.
A bicycle trip reduces the carbon footprint by 75% compared to an internal combustion car. A bicycle emits much fewer carbon emissions at 16-50 grams per kilometer compared to a similar distance by a gasoline-fired car that generates 196 grams, or a diesel car with 171 grams.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya