The Jerusalem municipality has created bicycle paths through the French Hill and Givat Hamivtar neighborhoods, but the paths' design is a nightmare for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike.
The project seeks to build bicycle lanes from the main intersection in French Hill, which is on the route of Jerusalem's new light rail system, to the nearby Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University via an area of university dorms and the Hadassah University Hospital.
The city ignored Transportation Ministry directives, however, and created a narrow strip for cyclists between the sidewalk and the street. The result is a path littered with obstacles, including trash bins, protruding car doors and parked cars. As a result, cyclists are still riding in the street, claiming that the bicycle path is too dangerous.
For its part, the Jerusalem municipality said work on the paths is not complete and most of the issues will be resolved when the work is done.
"The bicycle-path network was planned according to directives from the Transportation Ministry and is designed to protect the cyclists," the municipality said. "The issue of safety was key for of everyone involved the entire time. Part of the work has been carried out, and when it is completed, the work will solve most of the problems."
But according to cyclist Bennett Kaplan, who lives in the area: "What they've done is probably the most foolish thing I've seen in my life." He called the plan "Chelm on steroids," referring to the town in Poland, which, in Jewish folklore, was known for its foolish inhabitants. Hundreds of neighborhood residents have signed a petition complaining about the bike paths' design.
"Who would want to ride on a path where every 50 meters, cars are coming in and out? You need to look to the side all the time [to make sure] no one opens a door and sends you flying. Where do you escape to if that happens? You either take the hit or you fall," Kaplan said.
"When you're at one end of the path on a bicycle, it's like standing at the top of a ski slope, only scarier. I think any parent who allows his kid to ride a bicycle on the path should be sent to a social worker for an examination. A child can't maneuver a path like this."
Area motorists have also said the bicycle paths limit the space for parked cars and make it difficult to get out of a car after parking. The elderly and disabled have also complained about the design, and the project has resulted in the elimination of recessed areas on the street for bus stops.
Moshe Hirsh, a transportation expert who examined the design for area residents, said the paths could have been designed differently, but the cost would have been higher.
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