(photo credit: KKL)
Over recent years, bicycling has become one of Israel's favorite sports. With the help of its friends worldwide, KKL-JNF has been at the forefront of creating bicycle trails throughout the country, so it was only natural that the KKL-JNF pavilion at the "Bikes 2010" fair in Tel Aviv, which took place November 25-27, would be a major focus of attention. Everyone visiting the pavilion left with a biodegradable KKL-JNF bag full of all the maps and info beginning and experienced cyclists need.
In addition to improving the quality of life of Israel's citizens, KKL-JNF's bicycle trailblazing project is important because of its environmental impact. The more people ride bikes and the less they drive cars, the more energy will be conserved, in addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Fighting global warming is high on KKL-JNF's environmental agenda, and in this context, a KKL-JNF delegation will be participating in COP 16, the international UN conference on climate change that will take place in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10, 2010.
KKL-JNF's Ayala Cohen, who is responsible for "e-yarok", KKL-JNF's tours and events online magazine, said that KKL-JNF makes certain that the general public is aware of its activities: "KKL-JNF creates bicycling trails with varying degrees of difficulty, including singles and trails suitable for the entire family, throughout Israel. One of our most popular routes is the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem trail, which was blazed with the help of KKL-JNF Canada. We have also recently inaugurated the 'Bikers Building' project, in which bicyclists are partners to the planning and building of biking trails in their own localities. Bicyclists who want to find out about KKL-JNF biking trails can go to the KKL-JNF website and to our e-yarok magazine. People who sign up also receive weekly updates about KKL-JNF activities. In general, we try to provide all the information bicyclists need to guarantee them fun and fascinating biking!"Shmuel Ben-Dror came to the bikes fair all the way from Nahariya, a city on Israel's northern border: ""I love bicycling and have been riding three to four times a week over the past five to six years. I like both city riding and also in nature. I had heard that KKL-JNF was involved in creating biking trails in nature, but I didn't really know where they were. I saw the KKL-JNF pavilion here, took a few maps, and now I'm ready to ride."
For KKL-JNF personnel, bicycling is not just work, but also something they take active part in. KKL-JNF is presently organizing its own bicycle riding team. Gil Atzmon, KKL-JNF Lower Galilee forest supervisor, who was helping man the KKL-JNF pavilion, said that he was involved in creating the infrastructure for biking trails on a daily basis: "Making bike trails means not only being totally familiar with the region and thinking about how to best plan the trail, but also taking historical sites, scenery and nature into consideration. We are in contact with various bicycling clubs and forums, and include them in the planning process. In the north, we are looking forward to opening the new 'Kinneret View' trail, a bike path that will encircle the entire lake and is sure to become a favorite destination for bicyclists."
Ofer Gilboa from Rana'na has been riding five years: "For me, bicycling means riding in nature, so I keep track of what KKL-JNF does on the internet. I like the Alon Hagalil and Solelim regions in the north, where I do 30-40 kilometer long rides. In Ben Shemen Forest, which is closer to home, I practice what we call 'technical riding', which means learning how to deal with rock steps, steep inclines and declines, places where there aren't clear trails, and other such skills. I bike together with friends because it's safer and more fun."
Simon Binyamin from Nes Tziyona also prefers riding in nature: "I've been riding for five years, and it's only open spaces for me! I retired recently, and this is the best way for me and my friends to spend time in nature. We've become bicycle riding groupies."
"During the week I ride in the city, but on weekends, when there's time for serious bike riding, I'm out in the country," said Yuval, a lawyer from Rehovot. "I'm a big fan of the trails KKL-JNF has created and am always on the lookout for new ones. I recently went riding in Haruvit Forest, but in general, the area of Be'eri in the western Negev is probably my favorite. Personally, I like to ride alone. For me, bicycling is about being in nature, physical exercise, a challenge, and maybe most importantly, the quiet and the scenery provide me with a perfect backdrop for what I guess is a sort of meditation. KKL-JNF has done some amazing work."
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