Avoiding traffic in Istanbul

Nearly everyone in Istanbul complains about the city’s traffic. If you happen to be traveling at the wrong time and on the wrong road, a 15 minute journey can take over 2 hours. It’s happened to me a few times in the past so I’ve learned to take precautions which I’d like to share here.

The first solution is to travel during times of low traffic. I wake up around 6 AM and am out of my home before 7 AM. This way I avoid the morning’s rush hour traffic which begins at around 7:30 AM. I arrive at the destination of my first meeting before 7:30 AM and work from there.

The same is true in the evenings, where I try to end my meetings by 4:30 PM. This allows me to get home before 5 PM and traffic usually begins after then. If a meeting runs later than 4:30 PM, or if I have a dinner meeting, I wait until at least 8:30 PM to head home. This way I avoid the rush hour traffic from 5 to 8 PM.

The strategy above requires that you be able to set your own schedule so while it’ll work for some people it’s not for everyone.

However, there is a second solution which everyone can use. It’s called Yandex.Navigator. Yandex.Navigator is a mobile app that offers street by street traffic information based on the speed data that it collects from vehicles where someone in the vehicle has the Yandex.Navigator app open. The taxis on the Bitaksi platform are one of Yandex.Navigator’s main data sources.

Simply input your destination into Yandex.Navigator and the app shows you the fastest route to get where you want to go. Competing app IBB CepTrafik only offers traffic information for the city’s main highways without street level data, Waze has a much smaller installed base in Istanbul which gives it less data from which to make recommendations, and I’ve found the traffic data on Yandex.Navigator to be more accurate than that on Google Maps.

Even if you’re not able to set your own schedule, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use Yandex.Navigator. Given how much it helps me, I’m surprised how few people do. Hopefully this post will help.

Also published on Medium.