Wednesday, April 22

On Constructing 5-Legged Camels

"A camel is a horse designed by a planning committee"

Eco-friendly transportation is important. Period.
Tel Aviv is crowded, traffic jams are hell and the lack of parking space is somewhere way beyond hell. So travelling by bicycle or by public transport makes a lot of sense.

Sort of.
In some areas.

I use my bike to go from A to B. It's easy, cheap and quick. No parking problems. I'm not so sure it is healthy, due to the awful air quality i breathe while pedalling my way between buses, vespa motor bikes (i read somewhere their exhaust fumes are about as bad as those of a truck, doe to the amount of small particles they emit) and the endless lines of cars standing idle in yet another traffic jam.

However, in some areas it is also dead scary. Dan bus drivers are my worst enemy. Egged drivers come a close second only because there are less of them in the areas where i tend to travel most, not that they are more bike friendly). Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard (Nouzha or Pasha in the past) is noteworthy as a very scare road for the audacious cyclist.

The municipality is known for its greenwash policy making: More parking lots , more highways, more huge road crossings of multi-lane free-ways, more cars in short. But they talk green. So they plan bike paths. Which is nice. Or rather, which could be nice.
The only problem being that those who plan them, have not seen a bike close by for years. Nor have they used public transport.
Otherwise, how can one explain the silly bike paths along Ibn Gvirol street? The clash between people waiting at the bus stops or going to and from the bus-stops which are located right on the bike paths is unavoidable. Not even a camel, but a five-legged, blind and deaf camelchik, that's what it is, the Ibn Gvirol bike path. Who could have thought of something so utterly idiotic?

And now they have started planning another bike path along Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard. Great, we need one there. Jerusalem Boulevard is one of the scariest places to ride a bike. I try to avoid that road as much as possible. But i cannot. It's central, it's where a lot of services are located, and i sometimes need those.
So a bike path would be great.

And planning it properly is important.

But there is just one small problem. The guys (i suspect they are guys, women wouldn't do it that way) doing the planning, are working on their own, without talking to others also planning in the same street, such as the developers of the light train and the public transport companies who are currently in the process of developing the new public transport system for Jerusalem Boulevard.

Just before Passover i participated in a meeting with the planners of the "light train's" green line, the first line to become active, supposedly in another 3-4 years. Construction has already started in Jaffa's Jerusalem Boulevard. From their presentation (they are very good at PR, that's one thing to be said about them), i realized other public transport as well as bikes do not really interest them. They are seen as a nuisance more than anything else. They are "the competition" and therefore their lives should be made difficult, rather than easy and safe. After all, if you cannot travel easily by bus or by bike, you'll take the light train.

So why cooperate?

As a result several municipal and traffic authorities and green NGO's are each planning their own thing separately and i cannot begin the image the possible result. A cyclist's bad dream, that's for sure.

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