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Istanbul traffic returns despite coronavirus pandemic

Istanbul traffic returns despite coronavirus pandemic

For a while, the coronavirus outbreak was almost a blessing for Istanbul’s notorious traffic. When the curfews were imposed and people started heading to resort towns in the south last summer, streets were almost deserted. Almost one year on, the nightmare is back for millions of motorists. Motorists are now also to blame for traffic jams making a comeback.

“Peak hours” or rush hours when the highest number of people hit the road and slow down the traffic in bottlenecks have almost been extended to the whole day. The situation has been particularly bad in the last two weeks. Experts link the gridlock to two main factors: fewer people opting for mass transit out of fear of coronavirus infections and a change in working hours, another result of the pandemic.

Traffic is easier to navigate at noon and before the evening but is still far from the good old days when travel in the seemingly small but densely populated city would not take that much time. During the peak hours, the speed of vehicles drops to 10 kilometers per hour, especially in the E-5 and TransEuropean Motorway (TEM), two highways that stretch through the European and Asian sides of the city of more than 15 million people. Add this to the traffic from connecting roads and bridges, and it is much more difficult to commute in time or to go out for sightseeing. According to a report in Milliyet newspaper, covering the distance of 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles) from Beşiktaş on the European side to Beylerbeyi on the Asian side took 32 minutes, at the peak of rush hour, shortly after 8 p.m.