During today’s global health crisis, BisiKoop, a cyclists’ cooperative in Izmir, mobilized the city’s local authorities and civil organizations to quickly coordinate and engage cyclist volunteers to defeat Covid-19 at an urban scale. BisiKoop gathered to revise their “CitiesOnBike-Izmir” project activities, which is implemented in partnership with BUGEP, BISUDER and KARBIP and supported by the United Nations GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and Karşıyaka Municipality, and started the “BisiDestek” initiative.

Under this new initiative, they have mobilized cyclist volunteers, give prompt trainings to them, made an action plan to accomplish the transportation of daily shopping needs and medicines or monitoring of elders over 65 years old, disabled individuals and disadvantaged groups who are subject to curfew at a national scale in Turkey.  

BisiKoop is the only cyclists’ cooperative organization in Turkey, and their mission is to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions to cope with climate change and support policies and actions for sustainable cities. Collaborative activities of education and awareness have been set out with BUGEP, the largest civil platform of all cycling communities in İzmir, BISUDER, the only association of cycling in Izmir and KARBIP (Karşıyaka Cycling Community).

In the first 3 days of the curfew, 120 volunteers were gathered through social media. Trainings are ongoing with the engagement of relevant experts and with rapidly produced guidelines and booklets. Additionally, official permissions and geographical planning have been organized within close cooperation of NGOs and local authorities. They started to implement the cycling transportation plan with the trained volunteers while sticking to the rules and routes that are safe and fit to local coronavirus precautions. Promotion activities’ budgets in the project were modified according to the new conditions and the taxi bicycle module is in discussion for modification for elderly use specifically.

Izmir Metropolitan Municipality has developed an environmentally friendly transport plan in UPI 2030 (Izmir Main Transport Plan) which indicates specific goals on increasing proficiency, capacity building and transition to implementation of the development plan in the field on cycling transportation. The project’s main goal is to make rational, innovative and prevalent transport facilities throughout the city in parallel with the UPI. The project will provide know-how to the authorities on standards and codes about cycling, and will support the installment of bicycle infrastructure and direct involvement of local cyclists’ expertise in upgrading municipal development plans. Another activity of the project is to establish a cooperation network and facilities for better communication, knowledge management and regular gatherings of administrators, planners, experts and cyclist society.

Project Coordinator Mr. Ozan Veryeri said, “This local urgency action creates an opportunity to get across the importance of bicycle use for cities, as well as help authorities to foresee what the aspects of transportation planning in risks management terms should be. Additionally, cyclist society with volunteers get the highest reputation ever for their public actions. Also, as we have planned in CitiesOnBike-Izmir project, our attempts show the importance of community institutions’ contribution to the researches on bicycle transport technologies, while responding to crises like this one”.

The project video and more information can be found at https://www.citiesonbike.org

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