Crossing Tel Aviv

On Friday I decided to take some second hand books from my apartment in Hadar Yosef to Halper’s book store on Allenby Street, so I loaded my pannier with books and set Strava to record my journey.

It is a lovely day and I am listening to Shalom Chanoch on my Android phone. I cross into the Yarkon park, ride past the Cactus garden, the Rock garden, the Egret nesting colonies on the border of the Tropical garden (with accompanying smell of guano) and cross the footbridge at Bavli, cycling up Weizmann to Kika Hamedina.

As I cycle through North Tel Aviv, I am struck by the trendy young people, the beautifully dressed women. The traffic lights are all with me and the new bike paths perfectly placed.  At Kikar Rabin there is a bit of traffic and I nonchalantly cruise past the cars.

Then I bump a car with my pannier which is bulging with books. It falls off and gets lodged under the car which keeps going.

Suddenly things aren’t so cool. I stop to pick up a fallen book, and race after the car which stops 100 meters later with my pannier still stuck. The pannier is a write-off. 100 meters of grazing the road have worn it to a pulp, but there is enough material to keep going.

In Allenby, people and buildings look less cool. At first it all seems seedy and run down but as my gaze adjusts I notice a lot of single speed bicycles, beautiful Bauhaus buildings and a more mixed population: more orthodox, more Sephardi and that there are still many pretty women, you just have to look for them.

At Halper’s I get a pittance for my books (its more of a recycling exercise), choose some new ones and then race to the Central Bus Station to find a replacement remote for my TV (my daughter dunked the original remote in the toilet).

As if sensing the changing environment, my phone starts playing Bob Dylan:

How does it feel 
To be on your own 
With no direction home 
Like a complete unknown

The Central Bus station has changed a bit since I was last there, there are more Ethiopian barber shops and some of the electronic’s stores which line Sderot BenTzion have closed. All the pedestrians are African. The top end of the area has Bauhaus buildings and it looks as though the cool areas are still expanding into it, but the station area seems less mixed then it used to be. I find a replacement remote for my Toshiba though.

From the bus station I ride through the Montefiore neighborhood, which is  lovely except that its stuck between two huge roads and the air is bad. From there I enter Ramat Gan and ride past the tower blocks of the Diamond exchange district, finally racing up Aba Hillel to return to the Yarkon Park at the National soccer stadium.

As I reach home Bob Dylan sings

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl 
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

It seems highly appropriate.  

About the Author
Jonathan Lowenstein is an Anglo-Israeli who has lived half his life in England and half in Israel, but has never spent longer then a decade continuously in either country, Both Tel Aviv and London are his native cities and he has almost always commuted by bicycle. In the 1990's, he helped found the Tel Aviv Bicycle Association, arguably Israel's most successful bicycle advocacy organization, now known as the Israel Bicycle Association.