Isparta Bicycle Route: The Conflict Between Private and Public Interests


  • Şirin Gülcen Eren
  • Jesugbemi Olaoye Ajiboye


Smart Settlement, Sustainability, Bicycle, Public Interest, Private Interest


Isparta, one of the most livable cities of Turkey, is a rapidly growing, medium-sized city in inner Anatolia with a large academic and student population. In 2016, with limited financial means, the Isparta Municipality sought to make the city more livable by constructing a network of bicycle lanes intersecting in the city center. The politicians and roadside businesses or shop owners opposed this scheme, as a survey has shown. In July 2018, the main, central section of the bicycle route was closed by the same municipal administration which introduced it following political pressure and in line with economic demands. The closed lanes were converted to on-road car parking spaces. Only a part of the network on the main transportation axis towards the perimeter of the city still exists today.

The decision to close the bicycle lanes contradicts the ideal of the smart settlement. It disturbed cyclists, drivers and the general public, created tensions among them, lowered urban livability standards and made the city more dangerous for its inhabitants. Despite the universal struggle to create smart transportation systems and smart settlements, rules and regulations for promoting the use of the bicycle and integrating it into urban life and spatial planning in Turkey appear to be insufficient. This paper reviews the interests at play and their prioritization while making an impact-based assessment of the decision of the municipality to close the bicycle route. It questions the impact of the closure of the route on the local economy of a city on the way to becoming a smart settlement.

The survey uses a quantitative research method based on a survey. Three

(3) populations were sampled – namely, a local bicycle advocacy group, the general public and roadside businesses. Questionnaires were administered through a systematic random sampling technique. The findings are accompanied by interviews with decision makers, the public and cyclists and a descriptive analysis and a review of the literature on bicycles in cities, the economic returns of cycling in the city and bicycle routes as a smart means of transportation. The paper concludes with a critical evaluation of the legitimacy of the closure decision from the point of view of the public interest. It finds that private interests and political disputes, and the related tensions, are non-negligible obstacles which decision makers have to overcome in order to create smart settlements. It also warns that decisions of this kind taken without properly determining the economic impact are baseless.


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How to Cite

Gülcen Eren, Şirin ., & Olaoye Ajiboye, J. . (2020). Isparta Bicycle Route: The Conflict Between Private and Public Interests. ICONARCH International Congress of Architecture and Planning, (Iconarch -IV Proceeding Book), 759–788. Retrieved from



SESSION 7A Theme: Transportation, Accessibility and Networks