Relief is about a month away for students frustrated by the often full parking lots near the Faculties of Business, Art, Design, and Architecture (FADA), and School of English Language. A new parking lot with about 220 spaces between the School of English and Faculty of Music and Performing Arts buildings should be ready in about 30 days if bad weather does not delay construction, according to Ramiz Akgün, Manager of Construction and Maintenance. The ongoing construction project is expected to cut down on the amount of traffic using the main road to get to the Main Campus and will increase the amount of student parking on the Main Campus by about a third, from 615 to nearly 840.
The new lot will be connected to the Main Campus by a one-way road running from below the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts building to the School of English building. As a result, vehicles will be able to drive from the Middle Campus to the Main Campus without using the main road. The long-planned road and parking lot project was made an immediate priority earlier this month by the Rector's Office in response to student complaints.
Construction of a new building for Engineering offices and classrooms below the Faculty of Science building eliminated about 30 parking spaces at the beginning of the semester, leaving students like Y. Þ. (Political Science-IV) in search of open spaces in already crowded lots. "They cut off our place," she said. For her, fewer spaces mean more time spent finding a parking place near the FADA building, where Political Science classrooms and offices are located. Others have no trouble getting to class on time, but park illegally to do so. "Sometimes we put our car in the wrong place, and we know it is the wrong place, and then we get fined," said Ý. Y. (Political Science-IV), "They just don't care about us."
University officials and at least a few students believe there are enough parking spaces available on the Main Campus. The problem is that students won't use parking lots that aren't right next to their classroom buildings. S. A. (Political Science-III) always uses the lot off the Ring Road behind the Main Campus Physical Education and Sports Center because "I don't have time to look for a space and nobody ever parks over there."
Indeed, during a recent lunch hour - a peak time for traffic on campus - more than 60 spaces were open in the lot behind the Sports Center. Empty spaces in the lot behind the Sports Center are not unusual. "Students don't prefer to park there just because it is a little bit away from their faculties," according to Construction and Maintenance Manager Akgün. He said that on average, about half of the lot's 134 spaces are in use during the peak morning and lunch hour traffic periods.
While Akgün is sympathetic to students' parking complaints, he estimates that close to 90 percent of Bilkent students drive to class, a much greater number than the percentage of students driving to class at most universities across Turkey. This means Bilkent and its students must share a special responsibility. While the university is fulfiling its responsibility by increasing the number of parking spaces, Akgün said students must consider decreasing their dependency on cars.
"Perhaps students coming from off campus can share a car and perhaps students living on campus can ride bicycles to class instead of driving," he said. "We just can't put parking lots everywhere."