Tourist Tip #141 / How to Ride a Bicycle in Tel Aviv

This may be news but the 'sidewalk' really is for 'pedestrians.' It says so right there on the city's website.

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There you are, having the time of your life walking down the streets of gorgeous multicultural, gay-friendly Tel Aviv when a bicyclist whizzing by, probably with a doggie in his basket, almost hits you. Or possibly worse, he rings his bike bell to urge you to get out of the way – and you're on the sidewalk. Is that legit?

No, it isn't. The Tel Aviv municipality may offer different versions of reality over the phone, at least in in this writer's experience, but the city's website spells it out. On streets with no designated bike path – bicyclists have to ride in the street.

Cyclists are supposed to ride on the side of the street, by the way, not in the middle blocking traffic.

They are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk unless there is a designated bike path there, and that is that, the city states on its website.

Note that there are streets, for instance Ibn Gvirol Boulevard, that do feature designated bike paths on the sidewalk.

So you're supposed to ride on designated paths or in the street. Which side of the street? That doesn't matter unless the street is a mixed pedestrian/traffic one where speed is limited to 30 kilometers per hour. On these streets, says the city, cyclists must ride on the right side of the street.

And one last thing: When there is a path designated for both pedestrians and cyclists, the pedestrians have the right of way.

The conclusion is: Don't race down the sidewalk on a bicycle startling pedestrians with your bell and shrieking, "Move it!" That’s not only just wrong, you could get a ticket. Now you know.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai at the launch of the Tel-O-Fun bicycle rental service last year.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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