The rapid change and transformation of the world with unpredictable urban growth brought on by densely populated cities of the last century has given rise to many social, environmental, economic and political problems. Although its impact has decreased, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world and caused immense changes. It has also changed travel habits to a great extent. Private modes of transport have become increasingly prevalent. Micro-mobility vehicles became more important for short-distance journeys within cities. Therefore, the use of private vehicles will start to increase rapidly if micro-mobility is not supported in cities. Transportation network arrangements related to micro-mobility that prioritise safety, sustainability and accessibility should be implemented as soon as possible to avoid this increase.
Although city administrations want to solve some of the main issues such as climate change, increasing energy consumption, increasing poverty, and a lack of financing, these issues are usually handled one by one. This approach leads to solutions that yield low integration and short-term effects, thus creating problems in accessing and implementing long-term solutions.
As the city with the largest surface area in Turkey, Konya is built on a wide and flat area. Hence, it is very suitable for bicycle and tram use within the city. Konya is an important centre for the Central Anatolia Region with its increasing population, developing industry, growing economy, and cross-border relations between Turkey and Europe. Furthermore, the city is a strategic passageway within the national railway and road network due to its location. Rising demand for travel and vehicle ownership, in parallel with economic developments and spatial growth, have also increased mobility rates in the city. Accordingly, there are heavy traffic jams, especially in the city centre and on main transportation axes, and the currently available public transportation and traffic regulations cannot meet residents’ needs. Furthermore, there are additional problems, such as an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and difficulties caused by private vehicle-dominated spaces for cyclists and pedestrians. The inadequacy of parks in the city centre, and the fact that the city's squares do not consist of permeable surfaces, are also problems.
Temperatures are relatively high in the southern and south eastern parts of the city, and sudden and severe heat waves are frequently experienced in these areas. High temperatures indirectly affect the modes of transportation that people choose. If public transportation is not designed in line with necessary arrangements to cope with the effects of high temperatures, the increase in the use of private vehicles will cause an increase in traffic density. Likewise, on extremely windy days, the intensity of the wind increases, as the region consists of open plains, so dust clouds created by wind can adversely affect both motor-vehicle use and those cycling and walking.
The “Konya Transportation Master Plan” has been prepared to lay the groundwork for urban transportation practices in line with the certain principles to eliminate disruptions in urban transport, make urban transport more efficient and sustainable, implement environmentally friendly practices, increase energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint, while also showing special care for social justice. It can be observed that the principle of sustainable transportation is adopted in the Konya Transportation Master Plan. The Konya Transportation Master Plan focuses on issues such as improving public transportation in terms of energy efficiency to shift the focus of mobility to public transportation, along with pedestrian and bicycle transportation and the integration of all transport systems.
The first Cycling Transportation Master Plan of Turkey, a holistic action plan for the implementation of cycling, has been prepared in line with strategies of “Promoting Non-Motorised Transportation,” “Reducing Dependency on Vehicles,” and “Traffic Demand Management” determined within the scope of the Konya Transportation Master Plan and was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization in 2020. The Konya Cycling Transportation Master Plan aims to increase the current 580 km of bicycle paths by 38% in the city centre in the short term, enable active cycling tourism, make non-motorised transportation a part of the city's integrated transportation system, reduce emissions caused by transportation, promote the use of non-motorised transportation, adopt the “Zero Accident Vision” approach in line with efforts to create an information system for bicycle accidents, and enable non-motorised transportation access to focus points of transportation.
Konya's Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) is being prepared with a participatory approach to increase sustainable urban mobility, adopt an environmentalist approach to transportation, and contribute to safe and high-quality urban life. Questionnaires were given at different stages of the project to residents and stakeholders residing in Konya in accordance with the participatory approach while preparing the SUMP of the city, and this approach is only part of the attempt to prepare the most accurate plan for Konya.
Konya's vision and targets were determined within the scope of the SUMP approach, which will contribute to Konya's vision of becoming one of the best cities in the world in terms of sustainable transportation. With these objectives, it is hoped to meet the mobility needs of people and businesses for a better quality of life, make passenger and freight mobility more sustainable by preparing a more pedestrian-friendly and accessible transportation system for everyone, integrating technological and innovative solutions into transportation, and reducing the use of private vehicles, thus reducing air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
This project is being carried out in Eskişehir and Konya Metropolitan Municipalities by EY Turkey under the direction of ILBANK and the World Bank with financing from the European Union.