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A new town planned to be established in the vicinity of Istanbul will be designed solely for bicycles and electric cars, a Turkish minister revealed in an attempt to emphasize the government’s sensitivity on environmental issues.

“In many parts of this city, we will create residential areas where only bicycles and electrical cars will be able to enter. These projects will be ambitious worldwide and will greatly increase Istanbul’s brand value,” Environment and Urbanism Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said during a conference on the topic of “green cities” in Ankara, Sept. 19.

Bayraktar also said that similar projects are set to be adopted in other big metropolis, such as Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Adana and Diyarbakır.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had launched a series of large-scaled projects in Istanbul, which include the creation of two new cities – one on each side of the Bosphorus – along with a third airport, a third bridge and the self-proclaimed “crazy” Istanbul canal.

The new cities are designed to host a population of 1 and 1.5 million residents respectively, Bayraktar said, while he also defended the frequently decried urban renewal projects.

Bayraktar said priority would be given to build ecological residential areas, insisting they would be stipulating the new household’s inclusion of wind and solar energy systems and methods to recycle rainwater.

He also stressed that a large part of the “the household stock” was not structurally robust enough to handle the prospect of a natural disaster, particularly an earthquake.

Although being ambitious, the social effects of most the urban renewal projects, led by the omnipresent Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), are criticized for altering the demography of traditional neighborhoods and displacing local residents, as well as creating a sterile living environment.

The government, on the other hand, justifies the booming projects with the urgent need of building secure houses, particularly in Istanbul where a strong earthquake is expected in the near future.

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