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Daddy, Please Quit Smoking, I Need a New Bike!

By Tereza Antonova

Here’s a little riddle: It’s healthy, good for the environment and helps people with overcoming the hardship of wartime. What is it? It was the mayor of a little Turkish town called Kilis who found all the aforementioned virtues in cycling.

Kilis is located near the border with Syria. Since the breakout of the civil war, it has doubled in size with refugees settling there. Nowadays, the town has about 260,000 citizens, and the refugees have even outnumbered the old residents. Its mayor Hasan Kara found an impressive way to accommodate the newcomers and make them feel at home. He supports the children in their education, helps the environment and contributes to healthy the lifestyle of his citizens all at once

Kara decided to hand out bikes to children for free. Obviously, that’s not the end of the story. Before they hop on the saddle, the kids have to fulfil a couple of requirements. First of all, they must keep a good school record. Secondly, they should ride at least one hour a day. And finally, they have to make a relative quit smoking. Harsh, shrewd or genius? We leave the verdict up to you. What’s for sure, is the plan seems to be working: so far, over 4,000 bicycles have been handed out. And the ultimate goal is to give away at least 15,000 of them.

To ensure the little bikers have a safe passage around the town, Kara built a 4-mile long protected cycle lane. In the future, it should grow to a 20-mile long web. The project has been funded by the Turkish government and Hara hopes that, as per his request, the European Union will help a little as well. What an ingenious way to introduce a new generation to cycling, right? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!