Cycling İstanbul

Summer, when the sun shows its warm face, is the best tıme for exploring İstanbul by bicycle. So step on it now for a panoramic cycling tour.

It’s no wonder top world tourism destinations are expanding their cycling trails. New York City alone has 600 kilometers of them. Enriching the tourism potential and quality of life in cities, cycling offers solutions to problems from environmental pollution to traffic congestion. According to the latest environmental pollution reports, if Istanbul can up bicycle use by the European Commission’s recommended 25%, it will save 18 billion dollars a year.

The first steps towards life on a bike have already been taken in the city. Bike rental units are ready and waiting at Sultanahmet in the Old City, and bike transport platforms will soon be in place on some of the city bus lines. The Asian segment of the city’s 50-kilometer cycling route connects Bağdat Caddesi, Kadıköy Landing and Göztepe, and the European segment Bakırköy, Edirnekapı and Zeytinburnu. The six-kilometer Kurt Kemer Trail in the Belgrade Forest is no traffic zone and suitable for cyclists at every level. 40 kilometers of new cycling trails are all set to open as the city’s cyclable areas rapidly proliferate: the Beşiktaş-Sarıyer coast, the Fenerbahçe-Bostancı route, Yeşilköy, Ataköy, Ümraniye, Sefaköy, Beylidüzü, Tuzla… Here are two lovely areas for starting to discover Istanbul by bicycle.

Follow The Mimosas
A bike outing is one of the first things that pops to mind at any mention of the Prince’s Islands. You can tour the island’s nostalgia-laden streets on a bike you either bring with you or rent near the ferry landing. On Kınalıada, the island nearest to Istanbul, the fabulous views start the minute you take the coast road to your right and pedal round to the back of the island. When you reach the top, two more islands, Yassıada and Sivriada, will lie before you. The asphalt road that snakes back down to the shore is a great cycling trail. Going uphill at first, it then forks, the high road leading to a pine-forested hill, the low road back down to the square at the landing. Instead of departing right away, delve into the back streets and while away your time till the next ferry with a look at the old wooden mansions and their lush flower gardens. At our next stop, Burgazada, your best bet is to follow the trail of short story writer Sait Faik and pedal round to Kalpazankaya. Ships passing off the coast complement the scene to the cries of gulls and the slap of the waves in the distance. You may even be so enchanted by nature bursting with spring vegetation and the warmth of the sun’s rays that you’ll miss the next ferry! But Heybeliada and Büyükada are calling. Bigger than Kınalı and Burgaz, Heybeli revels in its past glory with ornate wooden mansions, pine woods and the ghost of novelist Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar. Büyükada also boasts two excellent cycling trails: a 14-kilometer long trail and a shorter trail if you prefer.

From Yoros To Riva
Besides Istanbul’s many wooded groves, the route from Anadolu Kavağı through Anadolu Feneri to Riva is a virtual oasis for cyclists. Fresh country air will envelop you immediately in this area laced with small villages, forests, streams and broad meadows. Passing Beykoz Çayırı and continuing up the Bosporus, you will come to Anadolu Kavağı. The Genoese Castle on top of the hill here is called Yoros. Like every grassy wooded hill it’s a great place for a brief rest. And you can replenish your energy on fresh seafood at the fish restaurants on the shore. Our next stop is Anadolu Feneri, a tiny fishing village named for an old lighthouse (fener) and literally the backyard of Beykoz with its mosque, square, fountain and long narrow paths. The road curving away to the right from the bridge will take you straight to the village of Kaynarca past farmhouses and through oxygen-rich forests. The small settlements along the Riva road give way to sporadic houses and streams hidden among the trees. After the village of Ali Bahadır literally everywhere you look is green, and the smooth asphalt road, which is good for picking up speed, stretches all the way to Riva with its long beaches, summer homes and tiny castle on the village square. The banks of Riva River with their rustic restaurants, picnic areas and brightly painted boats are waiting to welcome cyclists in the ebullience of early summer.

Murat Suyabatmaz
President of the Turkish Cyclists  Association

“Our Association’s initiatives have brought Istanbul 55 bicycle parks in different areas of Istanbul. We are going to cycle across the Bosphorus Bridge as we do every year on World Environment Day, June 5. This event will start from Taksim and end at Harem. We are expecting cyclists of all ages at this biking fest. You’ll find more information on our website: www.bisikletliler.org”

Towards Velo-City
Did you know that the European cycle route network known as Eurovelo totals 73,000 kilometers in length and attracts up to 10 million bicycle tourists a year? The President of the European Cyclists’ Federation, Manfred Neun, recently suggested that the Velo-City Conference be held in Istanbul in 2013.