I will never forget cycling into Istanbul.
With little experience in bike touring, we didn’t research the smaller roads well enough. Instead, we rode alongside heavy motorway traffic for several days on the D100 – the main highway from the Greek border to Turkey’s biggest city.
We weren’t alone. Many cyclists take the D100. Do they use this dangerous road because it’s easy, at least in terms of navigation? It is one straight line into Istanbul. Or perhaps they take it because, coming from Europe, they haven’t yet bought a decent Turkish map and don’t know of any other roads.
There Is A Better Way!
In fact, there are two better options:
#1. Southern Coast
Tim & Laura cycled into Istanbul in early 2014. They used the D100 until the port town of Silivri and then picked their way into the city on bike paths and smaller roads. On their website, they write:
We used smaller roads through Beylikduzu (Sari Zeybeck Cd runs parallel to the D100 for a bit). Around Avcilar Sahil Parki the D100 runs along a narrow bit of land between the coast and a lake – on Google Maps it looks like there’s no other option but the main road, but it’s misleading and there’s actually a minor service road and/or pavements bikes can use so we were hardly on the main road at all. After this came the real joy. Between the airport and the coast, in Bakirkoy, we pedalled for a relatively long way on traffic free cycle routes along the sea front. Total winner. You end up on Kennedy Avenue right in the centre of Istanbul old city, and even this big road is fine as there is a designated cycle lane.
For more information, see their website.
#2. Along the D020.
In 2010, Frederike & Guy (cycling from the UK to Australia) posted details of their route into Istanbul.
The bulk of this route uses the D020, which sounds wonderful from their description:
“It’s a single lane coarse tarmac road through rural farm land. There is no hard shoulder but it’s not necessary as there is little traffic. The traffic that does pass, we found to be very courteous. According to a local, drivers are used to cyclists on this road.”
Even the very last stretch of their route, coming into Istanbul, was tranquil:
“Expecting a ferocious motorway it turned out to be a lovely single lane road weaving through small villages, suburbs and marinas. With the sun rising over Asia on the other side of the Bosporus, this was one of the most memorable and enjoyable rides we have ever done.”
And now, the small print. Since 2010, we’ve heard anecdotal reports that the D020 has been widened and is not quite as bike friendly as it used to be. This report from late 2013 seems to indicate that it’s still a feasible cycling route, and this blog post shows detailed maps for the last few miles between the D020 and the city centre. If you try it, please let us know about the current conditions.