Innovative Networks for Urban Mobility

Yazının orijinali: MEWA Agora.

The rapid growth of cities due to industrialization and population growth has revealed the need for alternatives apart from the transportation service provided by pedestrians and horses. With the effect of this need and technological developments, public transportation alternatives have increased.

In the early 1600s, Phaeton Taxis were introduced in London and Paris. While in the 1800s, the process of public transportation began with the emergence of omnibuses, large carriages pulled by horses and used for public transportation, on the streets. Omnibuses, known to be used for the first time in Nantes, France, in 1825, were also very common in London at the same time. In 1832, it was recorded that there were 400 horse-drawn omnibuses plying around London. Istanbul, which started its journey of public transportation in the early periods, the Istanbul Tramway Company was permitted to operate omnibuses with the contract dated 1869 to the feasible places of the city without considering any privilege. At the same time, tram and commuter rail services started in the main cities of the world, including New York, Boston, London, and Istanbul. Over the years, public transport improved and transformed significantly.

In the 20th century, with the development of rapid transportation infrastructure and innovation in manufacturing, in parallel with the growth of the middle class, the demand for private vehicles became widespread.

However, today, with the impact of climate change and urban congestion, policymakers and city officials are under pressure to plan and implement transportation services for the citizens, where sustainability is prioritized by taking advantage of technology and considering the requirements of the age. Many local authorities are launching new initiatives to diversify and expand public transport systems. As developments occur and innovations are made, we see a new era in which inter-sectoral and inter-stakeholder cooperation within the sector comes to the front.

Kavşak Network Micro Grant Support

The “Türkiye Sustainable Urban Transportation Network (KAVŞAK)” project, prepared within the scope of the Civil Society Tool and Media – Civil Society Networks and Platforms Support Program financed by the European Union, is a network created to improve inter-sectoral and inter-stakeholder communication and cooperation. Kavşak Network, which prioritizes people and the environment, is a network that focuses on sustainable transportation systems and tries to meet the accessibility and mobility needs of all segments of society.

To achieve these goals, it is also among the main objectives to act together with the leading institutions and organizations and develop a culture of mutual learning and make this culture a system for the coming years.

One of the methods used within the scope of the project to achieve these goals was the Micro-Grant Program. Kavşak Network, Micro Grant Program, provided 12,000 Euros for the projects of 4 consortia, which were established under the leadership of non-governmental organizations and included public institutions, private sector organizations, and academic institutions, supporting local, sustainable urban transportation.

The project, “Share the Lane and Reach Safely,” focused on the bicycle being a common and reliable means of transportation in Sakarya and entitled to benefit from the Micro-Grant Program, it was aimed to increase the empathetic understanding between motor drivers and cyclists, and to raise awareness, and consciousness of drivers and bicycle users to comply with traffic rules.

All stakeholders involved in traffic in Sakarya were brought together within the project’s scope. The city’s deficiencies in sustainable transportation and the areas that need to be developed were discussed. Empathy training was given to cyclists and public transport drivers, and both groups were informed about the legal framework and the importance of attention and visibility in traffic.

Another project benefiting from the Micro-Grant program, “İzmit Bazaar Bicycle Courier Network,” aimed to provide urban package deliveries with sustainable transportation methods. The project, which actively implements Good4Trust in Izmit, one of the basic principles of Izmit Bazaar, supports the environment and nature-friendly production and package delivery stage of the production and makes it environment-friendly by using bicycle courier and also supports the communication between producers and consumers.

The upgradation works of bicycle tracks in Izmit were taken up, and the problems related to the safety of all commuters in the bicycle priority traffic were brought up in the agenda.

A guide booklet prepared within the project’s scope aimed to assist the cities and institutions that want to implement the bicycle courier project in their regions.

Another project that received support from the Kavşak Network Micro Grant Program was the “Safe Routes to Playgrounds” Project. The project is aimed to contribute to the improvement of the safety and accessibility of the roads leading to the playgrounds, which is the place where children are most active in the city, in the Bayraklı district of İzmir and to mobilize local governments to create a children-friendly transportation policy. In this context, a video and dialogue meeting was held to raise awareness.

The “Woman Reaching Public Transport – Topuk” project also received support from the funding. The project aimed to develop spatial interventions and participatory methods to make women’s access to public transportation safe, secure, and comfortable. In this context, Prof. Dr. Türkan Saylan Cultural Center (TSKM), located in Maltepe District, was designated as the pilot area. The project was designed as three modules: analysis, design, and implementation. Participation was prioritized at every stage. In addition to workshops and surveys, a model study was carried out around the Cultural Center and used to develop the area by taking the observations of the users of the vicinity, and site-specific suggestions were provided. In the design marathon, which was held with the participation of people studying different design disciplines such as architecture, interior architecture, city planning, industrial design, or new graduates, eight different design ideas were developed based on the opinions presented. As the outcome of all these studies, a street application activity based on the tactical urbanism approach was organized in the determined pilot area.

Starting from the side road in front of the Prof. Dr. Türkan Saylan Cultural Center and the IETT (Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Establishments) bus stop, in the area covering Nar street to the west of the cultural center, the floor was painted with round shapes and various colors. The pedestrian sidewalk was expanded, and awareness was raised in the area to make the streets safer for pedestrians; attention-grabbing colors were preferred to reduce the speed of vehicles, roads were narrowed to calm the traffic, and places, where pedestrians could spend time, were created. The trunks of perennial trees in the garden of TSKM were pruned to make the pedestrian paths more spacious and visible. Wooden game units for children to play were prepared, and modular seating units were assembled by the participants and put into use in the area.

In all projects, cooperation and participation were the main elements that stood out the most and were also necessary for the accomplishment of the projects. The projects carried out by the public, private sector, universities, and non-governmental organizations with a structure that is owned and participated by the public, apart from the consortia formed, innovative collaborations have also been developed that will ensure the continuation of these projects and carry them to different stages, which constitutes the main pillar of urban mobility.