Abuzz with electric scooters and bicycles, Tel Aviv might well be considered a paradise for micro-mobility solutions. The surging demand for alternative transportation almost certainly aims to fill gaps left by municipal and national authorities.
Israel is home to the worst traffic in the Western world, according to the OECD and International Monetary Fund, with government officials estimating that traffic congestion costs the economy more than $10 billion annually.
While issues of poor public transportation infrastructure, private vehicle dependence and pollution are far from an Israeli or Tel Avivian problem, a study by NGO Future Mobility said Tel Aviv’s micro-mobility “prosperity” cannot overcome the “lack of public and shared” transportation solutions.
Founded in 2018 by former senior government official and businessman Ori Yogev, the Israeli NGO compared policies in 21 leading cities worldwide, ranked according to their level of pro-activity and innovation in sustainable mobility and efficient transportation systems.
The NGO is headed by former Finance Ministry official Michal Gelbart and backed by 20 partner organizations, ranging from academic institutions to the automotive industry, all determined to advance smart mobility solutions and reduce congestion.
Cities were evaluated according to eight mobility-related components: mass transit; parking; tax incentives; shared transportation; shared micro-mobility; future of cars; Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) support; and walkability.
According to the organization’s Global Mobility Policy Index, only Seattle fared worse than Tel Aviv. Israel’s commercial hub ranked lowest for innovative thinking for both parking and tax incentives.
Seattle, the study said, is also home to well-developed shared mobility solutions but public transport is well behind. Boston performed poorly too, despite the presence of many transportation network companies (TNCs) in the city, due to tax policies that support private car use.
The top-ranked city was London, praised for placing public transportation “in the center and supporting it with complementary steps,” including the city center congestion fee and the reinvestment of revenues. Other leading cities included Helsinki, Singapore and Amsterdam.
“The index shows that a holistic strategy combining sticks and carrots is the right way to reduce road congestion,” Yogev told The Jerusalem Post. “The cities that have taken active steps in each of the components are not only ranked high in the index, but in fact present advanced transportation systems and a high quality of life for residents.”
Yogev cited efforts taken by the Tel Aviv Municipality in recent years to improve its standing in every component of the index, but emphasized that areas where improvement is still required are within municipal control. Measures include imposing congestion fees, creating reduced emission zones and opening the market to shared transportation solutions.
Based on the index components, Future Mobility issued a list of policy recommendations for all cities wishing to improve their standing.
Cities can improve bus systems by implementing bus priority methods and technological innovation in payment and enforcement. Adequate parking policies, based on limiting parking spots and raising their prices, are also necessary to reduce incentives for private car use.
While micro-mobility is a great “first, last mile” solution, the authors said, adequate regulations are required to keep the sidewalks for pedestrians only and there must be investment in infrastructure to separate users from cars. To enable the entry of electric and autonomous vehicles, government goals and road maps should be published, including targets for car sellers and the automotive industry, as well as the implementation of subsidy packages for electric vehicles.
If the Transportation and Finance ministries adopt the index and its recommendations, Yogev said, Tel Aviv “will be able to position itself in the top 10 [cities] within three years.”