Green activists in Tel Aviv, who have been battling the municipality for years over its policy of encouraging the use of private cars, chalked up a small but sweet victory this week. They proved the efficiency of transportation such as buses and bicycles. In a race from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv, the car came in last.
The Tel Aviv branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the city's Green Forum organized an event to demonstrate the shortage of public-transportation lanes throughout the city. The Dan Bus Company and Transportation Ministry held a 6-kilometer race between a bus, car and bicycle on Jabotinsky Street, an avenue that passes through four cities - Petah Tikva, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv. The three contestants took off from Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.
The cyclist, Rachel Gilad-Volner, needed only 20 minutes to reach the finish line - the train station in downtown Tel Aviv. Gilad-Volner is a member of the Israel for Bicycles association and a candidate for Ir Lekulanu (A City for All of Us) for the Tel Aviv city council.
The bus, driven by Eli Manor, came in second, and the car, driven by Meital Lehavi, head of the Meretz list for the city council, got stuck in traffic and lagged far behind. The bus sped ahead of the car thanks to the bus lanes and a policeman on a minibike, who kept cars out of the bus lanes.
In the past five years, new public-transportation lanes have been set up. "Those lanes are the key to fast public transportation," says Anat Barkai-Nevo of the SPNI, adding that more such lanes must be planned to make buses the preferred mode of transportation.
"The Tel Aviv municipality opposes more public-transportation lanes, even though we have tried to promote them," said a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry.
According to a city-hall representative: "There are 50 kilometers of such lanes in the city, on main traffic arteries."