Showing posts with label Transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Transportation. 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!"

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.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Travel to Tel Aviv - it's not just fun and games

From the stories here you may think that Tel Aviv is just fun and games. Shopping, dining out, lying on the beach, hanging out in cafes... well, that's just the leisure and lifestyle part of this city. Just as important, Tel Aviv is the true center of commerce, business, technology, investment... and basically the place people come to meet and make the "deals". Not that there are no other places to meet in Israel, there are lots of wonderful places, both quiet and comfortable. Green areas like old kibbutzim, quiet areas like hotels on the Dead Sea and the Red Sea (at Eilat). Green areas like small bed and breakfasts (called Tzimmerim - in the German tradition) up in Gallil, from the sea (Mediterranean) to the sea (of Gallily). But to see people, go to conferences, get business services, people come to Tel Aviv. Like all business centers the one thing people complain about most is the travel. Roads are clogged beyond belief on rush hours, buses run late and are filled with sweaty riders and cell phone screaming teeny-boppers, taxis are too expensive if you come from anywhere but a close suburb, trains don't run often enough and can also be full. Oh, the thought of getting on the highway or a train one more time. Once you get to Tel Aviv there is never enough parking, there is a ticket writer on every corner, and the bus stop is never where you want it.

Nicely flowing traffic into Tel Aviv on the coast road (Hertzel facing McDonald's)
OK, you get the point. But it's really not that bad, compare to LA traffic, NY bus and subway, Rome or Paris drivers, and London parking. In some of these cities you actually pay just for the privilege of driving your own car into the city. Not here! Actually if you know where you are going and have a little time, there are parking lots in most big buildings and public areas (Dizengoff Center, Azrielli, T"A University and fairgrounds, large hotels, etc.) Traffic is only really bad if you come the absolute peak hours. From 7:00AM to 9:00AM anywhere coming into Tel Aviv you are going to find a traffic jam. In the evening from 4:00PM to 6:00PM it's just as bad as the morning. But if you avoid these hours, you are going to be OK. But for a big city, Tel Aviv is not that bad. Traffic is bad but not everywhere and not every day, but you will have to sit in the car and listen to that radio talk or your favorite iPod collection. Once you figure out where you are going, there are plenty of ways to avoid the big intersections with the most amount of traffic.
Buses are comfortable, run all the time, and go everywhere, but you are still stuck in traffic!
Buses and trains are a whole other story. Trains are great if you are coming and going to where the stations are. The trains from Modiin and from Petach Tiqva are a new addition and you will not be traveling alone during rush hours. They will also save you a great deal of time if you don't have to trek from the stations too much. Buses have the same issues as cars on the highway, there are no high speed lanes in and out of Tel Aviv. So if traffic is at a stand still, so is your bus. But once you get used to a certain bus line you may get to like it. If you catch the bus early in the route you will get a seat. Than, put on these fancy headphones and ride with your favorite tunes. If the ride is longer than 20 or 30 minutes that means the line is not going to run very often, so make sure you don't miss the 7:30 bus because the next one could be 20 to 25 minutes away. Anyway, if you need to get into and out of Tel Aviv, no big deal -- but you better get used to it and figure out what you need.
Tel Aviv is working very hard to make travel easy. Roads are in good shape and there are construction projects to bypass heavy intersections, it's just that construction always take years longer than needed. The train system is moving along, but it is very expensive to construct rail lines and stations are very slowly being built. Actually the train system is already suffering from under capacity, but you don't have this rush of trains like in Calcutta (we are going to eventually learn how the Indians do it). Travel is one aspect of Tel Aviv that is actually working, the city is a usable business center - YOU CAN GET   H E R E !   Which is one thing that we learned from the bigger cities, which you can't get in and out of as easily!

      Next time - alternative transport-ation: bikes, tus-tus, and a board or tiny-wheels. Read More...