Simdi Bisiklet Zamani - Now It’s Time to Bike!

FedEx sponsored Climate-KIC and EIT Digital’s Sustainable Cities Climate Impact Challenge in 2023. Four cities were selected, including Karasu, Turkey, who worked to make cycling safer in this Black Sea tourist destination. The following story and video were created by the EIT Climate-KIC team.

Located on the Black Sea, close to both Istanbul and Ankara, the Turkish city of Karasu is a popular local and international summer holiday destination. Karasu is best-known for its beautiful landscapes and its large beach - the second-longest in Turkey, spreading over 20 kilometers (over 12 miles), with two sections bearing the ‘Blue Flag’ certification for high environmental standards.

With a population of around 70,000 in winter, it swells to almost 1,000,000 people in the summer months, which transforms Karasu. “When I think about this region hosting so many people...I think about the chaos due to the increased motorized traffic. It is essential to plan for more sustainable modes of transportation,” says Abdulkadir Özden, Assistant Professor at the Sakarya University of Applied Sciences.

Aiming to create more spaces in Karasu for walkers, cyclists and scooter-riders, the municipality teamed up with the Sakarya University of Applied Sciences on a green mobility project. This was one of four projects selected for the Sustainable Cities Climate Impact Challenge, organized by EIT Climate-KIC and EIT Digital, and sponsored by FedEx.

The project's main goal is to increase regional micro mobility corridors and develop non-motorized environments, particularly in areas such as parks and near sports fields. While a coastal bike path was built a few years ago - and quickly became popular with locals and tourists - it is disconnected from the central parts of Karasu.

“There is a unique biking culture in the Sakarya region - studies have shown that people of all ages are more likely to use their bikes to run daily errands, compared to other parts of Turkey. However, there is a lack of connection between the coastal bike lanes and the city center,” says Özden.

Progress has been made to improve connections, with two separate 1-kilometer routes becoming dedicated bike lanes that link the city center with the coast. Infrastructure improvements to existing bike lanes, helping improve visibility and safety, have also been undertaken.

Additionally, the municipality is also installing bicycle parking racks, repair stations and cycle resting points to further improve the cycling experience and make biking in Karasu safer.

Aiming to encourage more children to take up cycling, the project also launched the ‘Şimdi Bisiklet Zamani’ event - i.e. ‘Now It’s Time to Bike’ - on September 21st, which saw kids and adults come together to learn from a trainer about bike maintenance and safe cycling practices. Helmets, lighting equipment, locks, and other cycling gear were distributed among participants to enhance riding safety.

With more future sustainable mobility projects on the horizon, Özden feels positive about the rise of cycling in the region: “We want to create change from the beginning – from the younger generations. Let them have safer paths so that when they become teenagers, they walk and cycle more. We want to show people that if you support local decision makers, then they are more willing to improve active transportation and sustainable transportation for the District of Sakarya.”

The second edition of the Challenge is now accepting applications to fund small-scale projects that accelerate the transition towards cleaner, greener, and smarter mobility in European cities. The deadline to apply is November 10th, 2023.

EIT Climate-KIC Sustainable Cities Challenge: Learn more