(photo credit: Omer Cohen/Israel Association for Bicycles )
The evening before next week's Knesset elections, hundreds of bicycle and rollerblade enthusiasts will get on their wheels to persuade voters to support parties committed to health and the environment, and to promote biking throughout the country.
They will leave the corner of Derech Menachem Begin and Rehov Eliezer Kaplan in Tel Aviv at 8 p.m. Monday and ride around the city. Among them will be MKs from several parties.
Yotam Avizohar, director of the Israel Association for Bicycles, said that quality of life goes beyond just "wild flowers and dolphins."
"It... also [means being] against air pollution, the long waits for public transportation, the lack of bicycle trails and road accidents," Avizohar said. "Environment is also transportation, health and housing, and the public having a say in decision-making. We call on the public to take their civic duty seriously and vote, and to bring in MKs who are committed to the quality of life and environmental health."
Groups with the same agenda are invited to contact the association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organization is lobbying for bicycle trails, showers in the workplace, and parking facilities for bikes. Some of these demands, it says, require economic incentives.
The group points to a long-term study performed by the National Institute for Public Health in Finland, which found that bike riding reduces the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The prospective clinical study followed up 27,000 men and women over a period of 20 years, during which time 3,743 of those aged 25 to 64 died of heart disease. The main characteristic among the remaining study participants was that they biked to work and during leisure time.
According to the study, half an hour a day of biking can reduce the risk of heart disease and type II diabetes by one half, and hypertension by 30%. Such physical activity, it showed, also cuts the risk of breast cancer by 40%.