Helping Create 'Cycling for All' in Turkey

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Fietsersbond works on World Resources Institute project to strengthen cycling advocacy in eight Turkish cities.

Written by Wim Bot and originally published on the Fietsersbond website (in Dutch).

"Cycling for All" is a project of the Turkish branch of the World Resources Institute to strengthen advocacy for cyclists in eight Turkish cities. The Fietsersbond is a partner in this exchange project of the Turkish Directorate for EU Affairs and the European Union.

The contact was established during a visit of the WRI to the Netherlands in 2019, organized by the Dutch Cycling Embassy. There I gave a presentation on the history of the Fietsersbond, the cooperation with governments and the creation of the Tour de Force as a unique coalition of governments and civil society organizations around a common agenda. From that visit to the Netherlands, the Cycling for All project eventually emerged, with the Fietsersbond as a partner. It takes place within the Civil Society Support Program of the Directorate for EU Affairs and is funded by the EU.

In June a kick-off meeting was held, followed by a four-day workshop. On average forty people attended, mostly representatives of local cycling organizations and also representatives of municipalities. The participating municipalities are Adana, Antalya, Esiksehir, Gaziantep, Izmir, Kayseri, Kocaeli and Konya. The ultimate goal is the development of local cycling plans by municipalities and action groups together, culminating in a national master plan.

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During the kick-off meeting, I discussed the origins of Dutch cycling policy and the role of the Fietsersbond in it. Dutch cycling policy has a special "orgware", a collaboration between governments and civil society organizations. The Tour de Force with its shared cycling agenda for the medium term is the most recent example of this. The Dutch Cycling Embassy also fits into that collaborative picture. The Fietsersbond was and is an important player in that whole field since 1975.

The capacity building workshop, under the professional guidance of the WRI, dealt with issues such as mission, citizenship, objectives, problem analysis, stakeholder analysis, lobbying, coalitions, networking and advocacy. The bicycle activists from the cities were all very enthusiastic, but also indicated that they encountered many problems and reluctance. It is clear that the differences between the cities are also large: for example, front runner Konya has a master plan for cycling and a cycling department in the municipality; the cycling organization in Izmir has already organized a critical mass 130 times and Kayseri is still at the beginning. From the rich experience of the Fietsersbond, we were able to provide feedback, which was very much appreciated. For example, we emphasized the importance of a strong national organization and the role that cycling mayors can play.

After the summer we, the Fietsersbond, will advise on the local action plans and comment on the final products.

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