Israel’s Public Bike Rental Services to Extend Outside Tel Aviv

Success of Tel Aviv’s bicycle rental program entices neighboring towns to start similar programs in municipalities.

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Herzliya and Givatayim will soon join Tel Aviv in launching public bike rental initiatives. The Herzliya project will include the construction of a cycling path linking the city with Tel Aviv.

Herzliya is negotiating with Tel-Ofan, operators of the Tel Aviv project, to set up docking stations in central locations, such as the industrial areas, the beach and the city center. The main customers for the bike rentals are expected to be residents of Herzliya Pituach, who today suffer from a shortage of parking.

Parked bikes belonging to Tel Aviv’s popular rental program. Credit: David Bachar

The residents of eastern and central Herzliya and Tel Aviv will also benefit from the scheme. The program could significantly reduce the number of cars traveling through the city and cut down on pollution.

Senior officials in the Herzliya municipality told Haaretz that one of the conditions for advancing the plan is the construction of a cycling path linking Herzliya and Tel Aviv along Namir Road. "It's a very complicated project, both logistically and from an engineering point of view, so I think the entire thing will take at least a year," said Herzliya Mayor Yael German. "Unfortunately I don't see a critical mass of cyclists in Herzliya, so we'll join up with the Tel Aviv tender."

Sharon Keren, deputy director of the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority which operates the bike rental project, said that if the talks between the authority and Herzliya mature into an agreement, it will be possible to include Herzliya in the Tel Aviv Tel-Ofan project within a few months.

Meanwhile, Givatayim announced last month that it intends to launch Israel's first electrical bikes rental project within a few months.

The Tel Aviv municipality is working to promote alternative transport in the city in an effort to wean residents away from private vehicles. Haaretz has learned that the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority is negotiating with Car2Go, an hourly car rental company that maintains vehicles on Tel Aviv parking lots, which can be accessed with a smart card. The authority hopes to be able to offer a joint discount card for Tel-Ofan and Car2Go. "It gives you the perfect transportation solution," said Keren."If you need to travel short distances, take the bicycle, and if you need to get out of town, take a car."

The authority is also working out benefits and discounts for Tel-Ofan subscribers.

The bicycle rental project has 5,000 subscribers, 90 percent of them residents of Tel Aviv. There are over 2,000 bike rentals every day. Currently only annual subscriptions are being sold, but daily and weekly subscriptions are expected to become available. There are 80 docking stations with 550 bicycles positioned throughout the city.

That figure is set to rise to 1,500 bicycles in 150 docking stations by September, as the city begins the second phase of the program - setting up docking stations in every neighborhood.



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