On September 28, in collaboration with WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities and with support from the Partnership for Healthy Cities, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality launched a risk communication and public information campaign to promote active mobility and safe use of public transit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Images and billboards posted across the city remind the public of safe distancing and hygiene measures on public transportation and emphasize walking, cycling and other micromobility solutions like e-scooters as alternative transport modes for short distances. The campaign also aims to reduce individual car use, which the city is concerned will increase during recovery, by rebuilding trust in public transportation and directing residents toward healthy, active alternatives to private cars.

“Hygiene and distancing measures have been in place for all public transportation vehicles in Istanbul during the pandemic,” said Utku Cihan, Head of the Transport Department for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. “However, it is important to raise awareness of alternative transport modes that can be better for short distance trips. Cycling and walking are becoming more important than ever.”

“Our target is to guide Istanbulites who now have a tendency to use private cars to healthy alternatives such as cycling and walking,” said Güneş Cansız, Director of WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities. “We will also draw attention to how to use public transportation safely. We believe that this project will help residents who are facing difficult mobility choices during the pandemic – both in Istanbul and other cities with similar challenges.”

All campaign materials are available in Turkish and English and are open to non-commercial use for other municipalities and non-governmental organizations around the world.

The Partnership for Healthy Cities provides technical assistance to support cities in its network, as well as resources and tools to support the local efforts in the fight against the pandemic, and a platform to share good practices. Istanbul joined the Partnership for Healthy Cities network in late 2019. Reaffirming its commitment to its network of 70 cities during this evolving public health crisis, the Partnership shifted and expanded its scope of work from a focus on preventing noncommunicable diseases and injuries to immediate assistance in the urban response to COVID-19. Since 2017, the Partnership has been supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and works in partnership with the World Health Organization and the global health organization Vital Strategies. WRI Turkey Sustainable Cities supports the work in Istanbul.