Pedal power

Hazon/Arava Israel Ride 2007Being such a small place, you’d think Israel would be a simple place to get around on less than four wheels. But, alas, this is not the case since it’s cities and roads continuously choked with traffic. So it’s reassuring to hear that more Israelis are swapping their polluting automobiles for the most eco-friendly, not to mention wallet-friendly, mode of transport – the bicycle. Well, at least this is the case in Tel Aviv, where the number of people jumping on their bikes each day has risen by 300 percent in the last decade, according to the Yisrael Bishvil Ofanayim (Israel Bicycle Association or IBA).”Today some 7 percent of trips taken in the city are done on bikes. Recently this two-wheeled public has received real encouragement thanks to the announcement by the Transportation Ministry of an investment of NIS 50 million in the establishment of a national bike-trail infrastructure,” reported Ha’aretz. What’s more, the IBA are also campaigning for secure bike parking at railway stations as well as storage on trains themselves.Tel Aviv’s tree-lined pedestrian boulevards, or midrachov, and small scale relative to cities like my native London, lends itself to fossil fuel-free transport alternatives. Admittedly, you have to be brave to use pedal power in the first place in Israel where the kamikaze approach of many drivers makes crossing the road a fearsome task. As a life-long cyclist, I prefer the buzz of taking on the traffic and feeling the wind in my hair rather than inhaling smog waiting at the bus stop (plus the time saved instead of catching the bus affords me more time in bed in the morning). Even so, here in Jerusalem, where myself and other Green Prophets call home, travelling by bike can be even more risky as cycle lanes are few and far between, not to mention the narrower streets. On the plus side, cycling is a fun, healthy and dirt-cheap way to get around. So helmets off to whoever is behind the trend to get Israelis out of their steel boxes for a change.A spectacular way to escape the urban traffic jam and see the country whilst supporting eco-friendly causes at the same time comes in the shape of the 2008 Israel Ride. The bike rides run during May and November from Jerusalem to Eilat, courtesy of the good people at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and our friends at Hazon in New York. More information is available from Hazon.::Israel Bicycle Association (Hebrew site)

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One thought on “Pedal power”

  1. Mahone says:

    My favorite human powered vehicle site is They show you how to build electric cars and human powered (“didik muscle car” !!! ) cars.

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