Bike Tel Aviv
Bike parking in Tel Aviv. Photo by Tali Mayer
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In an effort to encourage Israelis to eschew travel by car, the Interior Ministry last week issued new zoning guidelines that require residential buildings to install parking stands for bicycles.

The order, which was signed by Interior Minister Eli Yishai, also mandates that buildings reduce the number of parking spaces available for cars in areas that are near mass-transit hubs, such as railroad and bus stations.

The new guidelines, which will not affect existing structures, limit the amount of parking spaces that local planning committees are permitted to add. It requires newly built apartment complexes to allot spaces where residents may park their motorcycles and bicycles. The buildings will also be required to provide spaces for handicapped drivers.

According to the guidelines, apartment buildings with more than two housing units will be prohibited from allotting more than one parking space per unit. Student dormitories will only be permitted to provide one parking spot per two students, while other educational institutions are to set aside one parking spot per 10 students. In commercial areas, the distribution of parking spots will be determined by the size of the building.

Bicycle advocates said they were pleased with the Interior Ministry's announcement.

"The new parking regulations will help in dealing with one of the biggest problems threatening the growth of bicycle riding and that is the issue of theft," said Yotam Avizohar, who heads an NGO that seeks to promote greater use of bicycles. "Setting aside parking stands for two-wheel vehicles will free up the sidewalks for use by pedestrians, including the physically disabled, the elderly, and young children."

The regulations could also have a far-reaching effect on the use of automobiles by placing a limit on the number of parking spaces that can be set aside by planning committees.

The ministry's guidelines will be gradually implemented in accordance with the new mass transit routes that the state is planning to introduce. The state will allow additional parking spots to be created in areas where mass transit lines are slated to run. In addition, local planning committees will be able to seek authorization from the National Planning and Buildling Committee in places where it seeks to establish additional parking spaces for cars.