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Cycling through Nicosia
City/Region : Nicosia Turkish Municipality , Cyprus

This transformative action aims to increase bicycle usage in Nicosia, through promoting the benefits of bicycle usage and encouraging citizens to ride bicycles in their daily lives in the city. Through this action we are aiming to changes people perception of bicycle usage in their daily lives. Through this action Nicosia Turkish Municipality, with the cooperation of their partners, has implemented 43 bicycle stations and made 410 bicycles available around Nicosia.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityClimate change
Public space
Pathways followed
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
Context
Bicycle Station

Nicosia, faces huge problems in terms of urban transport. It’s policy has been characterized by a one sided focus on the private car. Nicosia has at present one of the highest car ownership ratios in the world and a very low use of green transport. The continuous increase of traffic problems has serious effects on the city’s environment, road safety and the quality of life. The local authorities have the ambition to improve this situation, by increasing the share of cycling and at the same time upgrading and completing the bicycle lane network.

Nicosia, had been experiencing a long-term decline in cycling since the 1970s. According to a research study carried out in 2011, very few individuals cycle or walk. Citizens in general perceive cycling as dangerous and something which they wouldn’t wish to be associated with, due to intensive traffic and lack of bicycle lanes.

In Action
Bicycle Station

In cooperation with two companies (Yapım Construction and PBSC Urban Solutions ), the Nicosia Turkish Municipality has undertaken a new project called “Velespeed” in the city of Nicosia, North Cyprus in June 2018. Within this project, 410 bicycles have been placed in 43 different points around the city. The project is a shared bicycle scheme. The people rent the bicycle for an hour / day / month / year and then they are asked to bring it back to the closest bicycle station.  There are touch screen machines with card entry at each bicycle station, to allow you to rent a bicycle. People can easily rent the bicycles by credit card, from the Municipality website (www.lefkosaturkbelediyesi.org) or from cell phones with a phone application called “Cycle Finder”.  If the user does not return the bicycle within the specified timeframe, they face penalites, which vary depending on the how late they return the bicycle. The amount due is then charged to the invdividuals credit card.

This project is very important for the city and for the Mayor of the Nicosia Turkish Municipality, Mr. Mehmet Harmanci. He expressed his feelings as follows; “ We are witnessing the beginning of a new period in the city. The bike was important in the life of the Turkish Cypriot people especially before 1974 and it was the main mode of transportation. However, at present we even go to supermarkets by car. Through this project, we are aiming to regain that habit”. Within the context of this project, bicycle stations are easily accessible and they have been placed 15 minutes cycling distance between each other. This cycling project can be considered as a first step in creating an urban environment conducive to cycling, cycle friendly land use and transport planning guidance for Nicosia and also for North Cyprus as well.

Results
Bicycle Station

As a result of this action, we are expecting a huge increase in awareness regarding the usage of bicycle and intensive participation for the project. Through increased bicycle usage, there will be a balanced changes in traffic flow in a positive way in the city. This project:

  • will help bring a town with a focus on more hiking and cycling with less motor vehicle traffic.
  • will help tackle environmental pollution and global warming.
  • will provide health benefits through the increased use of bicycle.
  • will provide easy transportation with low cost .
  • will help increase the safety of other cyclists while there are more cyclists on the road.
  • Will provide improvement in tourism.

However, besides the aforementioned benefits, there are also risks for the project. They are specified as follow:

  • estimated as more / less demand than requested
  • theft and vandalism
  • insufficient road infrastructure and safety concerns due to public liability issues
  • disagreements with pedestrians
  • disagreements with other road users

 

Impact

In terms of sustainability, bicycles are the ideal option of transportation. They do not require oil, cost less than cars, are less dangerous than cars and are smaller in size and provide a healthy lifestyle.

Relevant to the increase in the number of citizens who prefer to use cycling as a regular means of transport, there are numerous health-related, economic, environmental and community benefits. Using a bicycle as a means of transportation is as easy and simple as saving fuel. For example, on a four-day workday, an 8-kilometer cyclist avoids driving a car at 3220 miles per year, correspondingly saving 380 liters of gasoline and avoiding 0.75 tones of carbon dioxide emissions.

The traffic, transport and parking problems were the second biggest problems in the community. We firmly believe that by using bicycles more as a means of transportation, traffic, transport and parking problems in Nicosia will be at a lower level in the order of major social problems. More intense bike traffic is a good tool to combat emissions, as well as a lack of exercise-causing injuries. The World Health Organization recommends adult physical activity for 150 minutes per week (brisk walking, cycling, etc.).


In terms of causing pollution, the car has become the vehicle that causes the most emissions as of now. Noise is one of the most obvious and often mentioned adverse effects of motor vehicle traffic. In many areas, motor vehicles are the main source of noise. On the other hand, cycling does not pose a threat to the residents in terms of noise. In Northern Cyprus, only 4.4% of individuals use cycling as a means of transportation in their daily lives, but we believe that the use of bicycles in North Cyprus will increase in the following years.

Challenges and lessons learned

As mentioned before, bicycle use in daily life was once part of Nicosia’s culture. With the increased use of cars, the use of bicycle decreased and almost vanished over time. The lack of bicycle lanes in the city is a challange for our project, because the citizens refuse to use the bicycle without having a seperate bicycle lane. As a result of this, the citizens started to think that bicycles are not safe in traffic. During and after the implementation of the bicycle stations, it was challenging to change people’s mindsets about the use of bicycles.

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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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