Tel Aviv will convert 11 sections of road into pedestrian malls over the next month, the city announced on Monday. These sections of road will be closed to vehicle traffic for an unlimited time, and the effect of the change on the environment will be studied, said the city.
These new pedestrian malls will join those already open on Levinsky and Sheinkin streets, which are considered an urban success.
The planned pedestrian malls will be on parts of Ashtori Hafarhi, Nahalat Binyamin and Haarba’a streets. In the Florentine neighborhood, they will be on Ben Atar, Vital, Cordovero and Frenkel streets. A number of smaller streets and alleys will also be turned into pedestrian malls: Daniel Street, Aluf Batslut Alley, Najara, Yosi Ben Yosi Street and Sgula Street. Some streets will only be closed off during the evening, such as Beit Habad Alley.
The city also announced changes in the hours the two existing pedestrian malls will operate: Levinsky will operate all week long and the Sheinkin pedestrian mall will operate on Friday morning and afternoon too.
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Turning Levinsky Street into a pedestrian mall met with suspicion a few months ago, but closing it off to traffic has made it safer for pedestrians and shoppers.
The new pedestrian malls are part of a municipal policy of giving pedestrians and bicycle riders priority and to encourage commerce, said the city.
The changes are unrelated to the coronavirus crisis, said the head of Tel Aviv’s transportation, traffic and parking department, Ofir Cohen. He added that the coronavirus “fit us like a glove. It demonstrated the need to expand the space for pedestrians,” and it fit in with the city’s prior plans to do so, added Cohen.
Nonetheless, the city did not include the closing of major thoroughfares to traffic, as has been done in a number of large cities around the world.
The city of Tel Aviv also said it expects to pave about 20 kilometers of bike paths, on top of the existing 140 kilometers in the city.