Cyclists Fill Tel Aviv Roads for Second Time in a Week

Thousands of riders take part in Israel's largest ever biking event to celebrate construction of 100 kilometers of bicycle paths in Tel Aviv.

Tens of thousands of bike riders took part Friday in Israel's largest biking event ever, held to celebrate the construction of 100 kilometers of bike paths in Tel Aviv.

The bike paths may not be contiguous, are not always clearly marked and are far from perfect, but they are much better than nothing.

Cyclists - Nir Keidar - Sept. 26, 2010
Nir Keidar

The event came a week after Yom Kippur, the country's unofficial bike holiday. It began Friday morning at Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv, and participants came from all over the country: individuals, couples, families and even a few organized groups.

Over the course of an hour, participants started biking down one of the three routes marked by the organizers - of five kilometers, 15 kilometers and 31 kilometers, respectively.

Major roads within the city and the Ayalon Highway were blocked off to vehicle traffic during the event.

For some of the riders, this was just another excuse to show off the bikes they had bought for tens of thousands of shekels, along with other specialized equipment. But for the vast majority, it was just one more way of spending time with the children before the holiday came to an end.

I thought of joining one of the two shorter routes, the ones for common folk. The heat and humidity deterred me from trying the 31-kilometer route. But in the end, I just gave up. The crowds were just too large, and the paths were so congested with cyclists in places that it was impossible to progress.

In any case, I had the ultimate excuse: a flat tire. Admittedly, it's a minor problem - air escapes slowly, and I can still ride the bike; I just have to refill the tires once so often.

I tell myself that even with a scooter I'd have to perform maintenance every few days, which is better than entering a bike repair shop during the weeks before Yom Kippur. In any case, I could not find a single pump to borrow in all of Kikar Hamedina.

So I sat on a bench, watching the endless flow of cyclists - both rare and amazing for a city that is usually filled with the smug of buses.

Vacationers, beware: Sukkot is going to be hot. The next few days are expected to see sharav conditions, with no changes before Wednesday. Even then, though, the weather is still expected to be hotter than normal for the season.

If you're planning to use the holiday to vacation in nature, take note.


Zafrir Rinat contributed to this report.