A plan that will more than double the size of Tel Aviv’s network of bicycle paths by 2025 was approved by the municipality on Monday.
The city has 850 kilometers (530 miles) of streets dedicated to motor vehicle traffic and the plan is slated to boost the network of bicycle paths from 140 kilometers to 300 kilometers (185 miles) within the next five years, the city said. By the end of this year alone, 30 additional kilometers will have been added to the network, in part on main city streets such as Dizengoff and Herzl.
The plan also calls for the addition of 33 kilometers of dedicated bicycle lanes in the heart of the city on portions of streets that were previously dedicated to motor vehicle traffic. This week, new bicycle lanes were created on Pinsker street and Salomon street.
Continued construction of a new light rail system in the Tel Aviv area is expected in the short term to make traffic congestion worse in the city itself. “The city will be at a standstill when work on the purple and green lines start and people will have no choice but to give up their cars,” a senior Tel Aviv municipal official told Haaretz.
“It’s a revolutionary plan that for the first time takes segments and turns them into one unbroken network,” said Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Meital Lehavi, who holds the transportation portfolio at city hall. “There is no doubt that a good bicycle alternative can lower the cost of living and improve air quality and the environment for the city and its residents.”
According to material released on Monday by the city regarding the project, 65 percent of residents and commuters who work in the city live within commuting distance by bicycle from the jobs, while 36 percent of city residents live in the vicinity of their place of their employment.
An analysis that the municipality conducted on commuting patterns found that 11 percent of Tel Aviv residents already commute by bicycle (as opposed to 2 percent of residents of the metropolitan area as a whole); 16 percent get around on foot; 17 percent commute using public transportation; and 56 percent travel by car. The goal of the expanded bicycle network is to boost commuting by bicycle to 25 percent, to reduce commuting by car to 25 percent and to boost the use of public transportation to 30 percent. The city also hopes to reduce the number of bicycle accidents involving pedestrians by 40 percent.
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The project will cost 88 million shekels ($25 million) per year, one official told Haaretz, 80 million of which will be for actual construction and the balance on public relations and educational efforts. “The plan addresses the main streets and links all of the parts of the city and the adjacent cities together,” the official said.
Another senior source noted that the plan calls for the elimination of about 2,500 parking spaces. The municipality estimates that the city currently has 37,000 paid street parking spaces, 18,000 spaces in municipal lots or garages, 23,000 free street parking spots and another 200,000 private parking spaces. The city is also preparing a plan that would authorize residents living in the center of the city to use parking at high-rise office buildings.