Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cracking Down on Electric Bicycles

A 250 shekel fine imposed on bicycle riding on Tel Aviv sidewalks - Ibn Gvirol at Arlozorov, April 2016
Police in Tel Aviv now stop and fine electric bicycle riders on city sidewalks. On a few main streets, I have seen police officers stop riders. This seems to be happening on large streets with narrow sidewalks (Derech Ha'shalom into Tel Aviv, Ibn Gvirol Street). On streets in Givatay'im in early afternoon when high school children ride in packs through commercial streets (Katzenelson and Waitzman Streets). Besides terrorizing pedestrians on busy commercial streets, an accident can cause real trauma. Up to now accidents caused a few bruzed muscles and broken bones. But as more bikers ride on sidewalks, the inevitable serious accident it just a matter of when not if.
The electric bicycle trend has taken Tel Aviv by storm. At first electric bicycles were a curiosity, maybe another alternative transportation mode in a city with chronic parking shortage and commute time grid lock are an annoyance for years. But the electrified models came at a time where government efforts to introduce more bicycling seemed like a good idea. Tel Aviv introduced a bicycling rental by the hour program. Copying London's program, a resident can sign up for a yearly pass and pay 280 shekels (see city bicycling rental page, HE). The Tel-O-Fun program is adding a few biking enthusiasts to Tel Aviv streets, but seems more of a publicity effort than a real transportation solution. There is talk about adding bicycle lanes, but besides bicycle traffic lights along the beach path, to me this seems like a long term political babble. So if you come to Tel Aviv, and see "everyone" biking on sidewalks. Look for the marked bike paths. Or give the police a story how in London and Amsterdam bikes and pedestrians have equal rights. It could get you off a 250 shekel fine (about US$ 62.50). Otherwise just ride the streets and as they say "be careful out there!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Racing in Tel Aviv: Road Cyclists Go for Speed

Main event. pack is tight chasing the leaders. Tel Aviv road cycling competition, September 2010 / © 2010

On a Friday morning during the Succot holiday, while Tel Aviv was still half asleep, hundreds of slick dressed road cyclists converged on Kikar Ha'medina. Tel Aviv's annual road cycling competition was about to start. Some arrived as early as 7:00 AM to practice and stretch. Some arrived from as far north as the Gallil at the Lebanon border and as far south as Arab Bedouin village. Everyone had speed in mind. Most of the contestants belong to cycling clubs with cities like Haifa represented by about 20 cyclists. Some clubs are sponsored by the big bike stores on Ha'cheshmonain street or Igal Alon Boulevard in south Tel Aviv. Some are local clubs associated with the large sports groups Maccabi and Ha'poel. The main event was a long race around the circle. Kikar Ha'medina (The State Circle in Hebrew) is Tel Aviv's largest traffic circle. It houses some of the city's most exclusive shops. But on this Friday morning Gucci and Lacoste shoppers were nowhere in sight. The main event ended peacefully with a few scrapes and bruises. Overall, very few accidents for such a tight and fast race.

Time trial finish! This year's record of 1:03 was a course record. Five time trial heats were held at the end of the event. Tel Aviv road cycling competition, September 2010 / © 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bike Tel Aviv: Moutain Bikes Without The Dirt, Slick Road Bikes Too

Tel Aviv racing clubs annual race around Kikar Ha'medina. This annual event brings fans from all over the country. While the city was virtually sleeping on a Friday morning, enthusiasts were having a time of their life. World class cyclists did not attract much crowd. / © 2010

Tel Aviv has more dirt bikes on the streets than road bikes. They are simply more popular. The roads are actually fine, smooth and clean. The biggest problems in biking Tel Aviv are traffic during rush hours and theft in big tie-in areas (like the Arlozorov train station.) The weather is great for bicycling all year around. The city is flat and there are plenty of shops to buy and fix bikes. So why is Tel Aviv not like Amsterdam? Why can't Tel Avivians simply hop on bikes and get around the city easily? (instead of driving cars and searching for parking) Some think it is an emotional state of affair. Bicycling is not cool or is stigmatized as a lower class form of transport. But city hall is out to change these notions and they are taking a practical approach. The last few years the city put in nice bike paths, encouraged bike rental schemes and sponsored biking events. To the bikers all of this is really nice. I am not sure if it even nudges 100 drivers to abandon their cars for a nice bike.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Biking Around the Dead Sea & LOT spa hotel

Eyal Skuza on a bike ride in the desert (courtesy of Menachem Zibziner Blog.) The spring is a great time to go out to the desert, perfect biking weather awaits the ones who like wide open spaces / © 2010

Spring is here and the weather in Israel is cool. In the desert and dead sea area the weather now is optimal for biking. All around the dead sea and the Masada area, there are paved and dirt roads for biking. The terrain is both smooth and rough, depending on where you bike. If you like open spaces, there are many areas where you can have the land to yourself. If you want to see more of the dead sea, stick to the paths around the resorts. The dead sea area, with it's lunar like landscape, is one of the most beautiful areas in Israel. On clear days, you can see for miles. To the east of the main road (route 90) from the Dead Sea hotels areas towards Eilat, is the Jordanian mountain range. The view is typical of the Arabian deserts. To the west of the main road is the Israeli desert. On this side are hundreds of dry river beds carved from winter flash floods. Further west are craters and messas, Masada, the famous Israelite rebel fort from the Roman rebellion is a few miles away. If you are a history buff, biking around Masada is a cool experience.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tel Aviv Wants To Be Amsterdam: In Bicycling

Tel Aviv is a great place to bicycle. It is flat, the weather is great most of the year and most roads are bicycle friendly. But people here do not get around by bicycle. They prefer cars, mopeds, taxis or buses, anything motorized. There is even a trend for electric scooters as a commuter vehicle. City hall decided to promote bicycling. There are good reasons for people to get around by bicycles, after all in Amsterdam and Beijing you see more bicycles than taxis. A recent article in the Globes, a business paper, reported of city government push for more bicycle commuting. As you can imagine, what government decides is not exactly what people will do. So is turning Tel Aviv into Amsterdam in bicycle transportation just a matter of some PR? What makes the Chinese and Dutch take to the road by bike while Israelis take taxis or buses?

While Tel Aviv is a great place to bicycle, Tel Avivian's love their cars and mopeds (called Tus-Tus.) Cars are somewhat of a new phenomena for most people in Israel. Until the 1990's car prices were too high for most Israelis due to 100% import duty. When taxes were reduced to 50% and then 30%, cars became affordable. Tus-tusim (plural for mopeds) are a perfect vehicle for city commuting and are preferred to bicycles, it's a bike except there is that engine. Moped riders ride just like bicyclists, pass between cars in intersections and ride and park on side walks. So what makes these Dutch and Chinese pedal instead of moped? It's hard to say. Tel Avivians are probably just as practical as Chinese. Tel Aviv is just as flat as Amsterdam and probably has as much free parking. For the most part biking on the streets is safe. When streets are too crowded there are sidewalks, which most walkers do not mind sharing with bikes. The only real problem with bicycles in Tel Aviv is theft. Which leads one to believe that someone out there wants the bikes. Which means that they should want to bicycle around town. Actually, the theft seem to come from the teenage market (and teenagers themselves.) Teenagers seem to want expensive bikes and do not mind a slightly used one, so they buy or steal them. Police does not seem care and bicycle registration programs are not promoted enough or encouraged. A good lock and some common sense where to lock your bike is usually enough to prevent theft.