Turkish cyclists protest killings of bikers in traffic accidents around country
Cyclists blocked roads in İzmir on Aug. 18 to protest the killing of fellow bikers in traffic accidents. AA photoCyclists held demonstrations in several Turkish cities Aug. 18 in protest at traffic accidents that have killed or injured cyclists, as well as a lack of regulations to protest bikers.
Cyclists blocked roads in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Bursa on Aug. 18 to protest the killing of fellow bikers in traffic accidents, Doğan news agency reported.
Around 500 people protested the killing of a cyclist, Zihni Şahin, in a recent traffic accident on the coastal road in Istanbul’s Maltepe district.
The protesters called on drivers to respect cyclists.
After reading their statement, the cyclists began bicycling along the coastal road, leaving only one lane open to vehicles. The group left a bicycle near the spot where Şahin was killed in the accident before heading toward Bağdat Avenue in Kadıköy.
A dispute started between the cyclists and two drivers in Bağdat Avenue after cyclists claimed that the drivers had approached the mass too closely. A driver started to chase a cyclist with his car before pursuing cyclists on foot down side streets. A scuffle subsequently erupted between other cyclists and the driver when he returned to his car, prompting police to intervene, forcing the drivers to depart and the cyclists to disperse.
Meanwhile, a group of cyclists in İzmir gathered in Gündoğdu Square and marched to Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street, carrying placards reading, “We don’t want to die in traffic,” “Roads belongs to all of us, let’s share.” Alper Güngör said on behalf of the protesters that traffic accidents in which cyclists are involved had increased in recent months, while also criticizing the lack of sufficient bike lanes, Anadolu Agency reported.
After his speech, the group lay on the road on Talatpaşa Boluvard for a while, blocking traffic.
Protesters in Ankara also gathered in Güvenpark and lay on the street in memory of cyclists killed in accidents. The cyclists then biked to Sıhhiye and Kuğulupark neighborhood.
“We lost Çağatay Avşar in 2010. Taner Şafak, Mustafa Karadağlı, Meril Çiğdem Durmuş, Kazım Kurnaz, Murat Demirtaş, Zihni Şahin, Tolga Beyenir were also lost in traffic accidents. Today is the second anniversary of Onur Karaca’s death,” said Linda Nihan, a protester.
Nihan said regulations about biking must be expanded and that public awareness must be increased, noting that penalties for drivers who injure and kill cyclists must be increased and that more bike lanes must be constructed.
In Bursa, around 150 cyclists lay on the road near the Atatürk Monument, saying they had the same rights as motorists in traffic.
Green Pedal Bicycle Association head Ertan Güler said four cyclists were killed in accidents last month.