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Jerusalem is pedaling in the wheelprints of Tel Aviv and other cities with a plan to become more cyclist-friendly and create bicycle lanes and parking places.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI ) and the Jerusalem branch of the global Critical Mass biking movement have calculated that 3,500 cyclists ride through the capital's center daily.

The bicycle count in Jerusalem held earlier this year included an examination of riding habits and riders' characteristics. Apparently 90 percent of the cyclists were men above the age of 18 (according to the counters' estimate ) and almost 60 percent of them wore helmets. About 43 percent rode on sidewalks and only 6-10 percent were seen riding opposite the traffic direction.

"Considering that Jerusalem still has no bicycle infrastructure, this is a considerable number of cyclists," says Pnina Kaplan of the SPNI.

"I don't know why so few riders are women. Perhaps it has something to do with the absence of bicycle lanes and the feeling that it's unsafe," she said.

A cycling survey published recently by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality calculates a 53 percent rise in the number of cyclists in the city over the past four years, now reaching some 12,000. Almost 8 percent of workers and students in Tel Aviv pedal to work and school.

Ministries and municipalities have recently begun advancing bicycle lanes and safe parking. Six months ago the National Planning and Building Council approved regulations requiring allocating protected bicycle parking places in every new building.

"We recently approved a plan to build bicycle lanes in Ramat Gan," Naomi Angel, head of the Tel Aviv district planning bureau said.

Last month the planning authorities approved a policy document in the central district stipulating building a network of bicycle lanes in open areas that will be connected to the lanes inside the cities.

"In the Tel Aviv district almost all the cities have master plans for building bicycle lanes and we're advancing a program to connect inter-city lanes," Angel said.