The traffic problem will not be solved with this mentality

The traffic problem will not be solved with this mentality

The other day, I was sitting at a cafe in Beşiktaş. Situated in the midst of concrete, the owners tried to add some green to the environment by placing some plants in front of the coffeehouse.

The other day, officials from the municipality came and took the flower pots away. If these pots were not there, cars would be parked in their place. You know what they said? “This new pavement was laid for cars.”

This is the summary of our cities, in fact. It has nothing to do with political party A or B. With the exception of a few, all of them are worse than each other.

Our cities are planned according to cars. Whenever there is work on the pavement or roads, the justification is always to ease the traffic.

But when you start researching the issue, you see no one is going toward the right solution. Now I will tell you what Murat Çelik said found in the book of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, called “Green Transportation in Cities.”

Çelik says we are in a good situation as far as the increase in the number of cars: “There are 700 cars per 1,000 people in the U.S. This number drops to 550 in European Union countries, 350 to Baku, 130 in Turkey.”

Yet, our problem, obviously, is the fact that our public transport system is not sufficient and we don’t have proper city planning.

The use of public transport in Turkey is 30 percent according to the figures he provided. 50 percent of our traveling is done on foot. This ratio reaches 52-53 percent when you add bicycles.
When you omit travel by foot, 60 percent of “motorized” travel is done by public transportation, 40 percent by private cars.

These ratios are not that bad, yet because “we lack an efficient transportation policy Istanbul is a city with a 24-hour traffic jam.”

Obviously, transportation activities increase when development increases. Çelik calls this “a rule of physics.” Yet he also talks about how capitalist countries are trying to make green transport an economic sector.

Such as creating systems whereby people can work from home, establish systems to share cars or keep the prices of parking lots high...

After having spent its biggest budget on highways, the United States realized in the 1990’s that the more it solved the traffic problem, the more people immediately went to buy cars and led to traffic jams. That’s why the U.S. federal government does not give any municipal administrations money for new highways.

“If you want to construct public transportation, I’ll give you the money you want, but you can’t get a penny from me for new highways.”

We have serious problems on urban planning, according to Çelik.

Our cities are built according to one center. People flood to one center and try to return home. If we had multi-centered cities people, would not go in the same direction.

Well gentlemen, you cannot ease traffic jams by constructing new roads, building new bridges or huge apartments, on the contrary, it will get even worse.