Riding Through the Hills, From Refaim to Sorek Streams: The New Bike Tunnel of Jerusalem

The 2.1-kilometer tunnel, built in the '90s, links Ein Lavan and the Ein Kerem junction - and has a sewage pipe running through it, too

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The bike tunnel in Jerusalem will open to the public in May.
The bike tunnel in Jerusalem will open to the public in May. Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority have paved a bike path in a tunnel through which a sewage pipe passes.

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The 2.1-kilometer tunnel links Ein Lavan near the Biblical Zoo, and the Ein Kerem junction near Ein Kerem. The tunnel is being opened for the Gran Fondo New York bicycle race being held in the city on Friday. Afterward, it will be closed for a few months to receive the final permits needed from the Fire Service and the Health Ministry to open it to the general public.

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The tunnel was built in the 1990s to run a sewage pipe that funnels the sewage from the city’s southwestern neighborhoods to the Sorek stream, where the city’s large sewage treatment plant is located. The tunnel is used by Gihon, the city’s water company, to maintain the pipeline. The tunnel is three meters wide, and although it contains a large sewage pipe, it is well ventilated and there is no bad smell. Air-quality monitoring has shown that there is no exceptional pollution in the tunnel.

Riding at the entrance to the bike tunnel near the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman

For those who enjoy cycling in the Jerusalem Hills, the tunnel opens many possibilities, especially for families, children and nonprofessional cyclists, because the tunnel links the two large streambeds that drain western Jerusalem – the Refaim and Sorek streams – and spares riders an exhausting climb to the Hadassah Medical Center or Khirbet Sa’adim. The tunnel bike path was inaugurated Monday morning in a ceremony attended by Mayor Nir Barkat.

During the coming week there will be three major cycling events in the city: the Gran Fondo New York race, which includes two routes of 70 and 130 kilometers; the popular Sovev Jerusalem bike race, also scheduled for Friday, and the first stage of the Giro d’Italia bike race, which opens in Jerusalem next Friday, May 4.

“Jerusalem has become Israel’s sports capital and one of the cities that hosts some of the world’s leading international sporting events,” Barkat said. “These events will expose the beauty of Israel’s capital to hundreds of millions of viewers throughout the world and will bring many tourists and visitors to Jerusalem who will strengthen businesses and tourism in the city.”

Despite the sewage pipe, the air in the tunnel is not polluted.Credit: Emil Salman