Ride aims at pressuring Knesset on cycle paths

Hundreds to take to streets, demanding Knesset candidates commit to allocating at least 1% of budget to cycling paths.

bike trail_521 (photo credit: Sonia Manchanda)
bike trail_521
(photo credit: Sonia Manchanda)
Hundreds of cyclists and rollerbladers will take to the streets of Tel Aviv on Monday night demanding that all Knesset candidates commit to allocating at least 1 percent of the Transportation Ministry budget to maintaining cycling paths, the organization Israel for Bikes said on Sunday.
In the past four years, bills encouraging the use of bikes and increasing the safety of their riders have been repeatedly blocked in the Knesset, despite the fact that their creators have hailed from the government’s major parties, according to Israel for Bikes.
Likewise, new bicycle parking regulations that the Interior Minister approved last year also ended up frozen. The Transportation Ministry budget dedicated thus far to bicycle infrastructure development has been minimal, amounting to less than 1% of the ministry’s expenses, the organization said.
“Despite the existing understanding of various government ministries that there is a need to encourage cycling on a daily basis, as part of a healthy lifestyle and for quality of life, environment and increased accessibility for the public, and despite the supposed commitment to act to increase the safety of cyclists, the investment is still negligible,” said Alik Mintz, founder of Tel Aviv Rollers.
Aside from Tel Aviv, where the municipality spends about NIS 30 million annually on bike infrastructure and has about 120 kilometers of paths, the country is not reaching its cycling potential, the group argued. In second place as far as bike paths are concerned is Herzliya, with only 17 kilometers.
Israel for Bikes is therefore calling upon Knesset candidates to support a bill immediately following their election to encourage cycling – including bike path construction, parking space installation, workplace showers and economic incentives to push people to cycle.
The bill, launched by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, passed in its first reading in 2008 and received additional support from Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, five other ministers and 65 other Knesset members, the organization said.
Israel for Bikes also asked that the forthcoming Knesset members quickly approve a second bill that would increase the safety of cyclists, requiring drivers to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from cyclists and granting riders priority over open doors of parked cars, the group added.
“We invite the general public and cyclists to vote with their two feet [Monday] evening and show decision-makers that there is great support for cycling infrastructure development,” said Yotam Avizohar, CEO of Israel for Bikes.
Avizohar encouraged Israelis “to exercise their right and civic duty and take advantage of this day of rest, not only through leisure and shopping but also by walking – or riding – to vote.”