To impress upon Knesset candidates the critical importance of improved cycling infrastructure, the organization Israel for Bikes led hundreds of environmentalists on a bike ride across Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon.

Joining the cyclists were Tzipi Livni and MK Yoel Hasson, a Tzipi Livni Party candidate, as well as Green Movement head Prof. Alon Tal.

The cyclists were rallying to express their disappointment that for four years, bills aimed at increasing cycling safety have been stalled again and again, despite the fact that their creators are ministers and Knesset members from the coalition, they said.

Meanwhile, bicycle parking regulations signed by the interior minister last year were frozen, and the budget spent on developing cycling infrastructure in the Transportation Ministry has been negligible, according to Israel for Bikes.

Aside from Tel Aviv, where the portion of the municipal budget dedicated to bike-riding has allowed for the establishment of 120 kilometers of bike paths, the country as a whole is not realizing its cycling potential, the organization argued. Following Tel Aviv in second place is Herzliya, with only 17 kilometers of bike paths.

“Despite the existing understanding in various government ministries that it is necessary to encourage cycling on a daily basis – as part of a healthy lifestyle and for quality of life, environment and increasing accessibility for the entire public – and despite the alleged commitment to work to increase riding safety, the investment on this subject has been negligible,” said Israel for Bikes CEO Yotam Avizohar.

Israel for Bikes members and other environmental activists are demanding that Knesset candidates commit themselves to an existing bill that encourages bicycle transportation going forward, promotes bike path construction in cities and institutes economic incentives for cycling to work, the organization said.

This bill was passed in its first reading in 2008 but has since been blocked again and again, according to the group.

Members of the small Greens party got on their bikes on Friday as well, as part of a campaign to increase public involvement in controlling the quality of the air they breathe.

“This trip is designed to protest the lack of a proper budget and worthy plan for bike paths throughout the country,” Livni said. “Bicycles are an alternative to cars and to polluting transportation, and contribute to the environment.”

Livni and her party colleagues promised that the cyclists would have her support, and that she would promote a target of 10 percent bicycle usage for daily travel to work.

“It’s time that the state takes more responsibility for promoting the subject and defines clear objectives for the advancement of bike transportation in Israel, while expanding the budget devoted to the subject,” Tal said.

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